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The Mind and Society 


non-logical conduct 

volume ii 

analysis of sentiment 
(theory of residues) 

volume iii 

sentiment in THINKING 

(theory OF derivations) 



The Mind and Society 

[ Trattato di Sociologia general e ] 







Non-Logical Conduct 



All rights reserved, including 
the right to reproduce this book 
or portions thereof in any form. 

first edition 


Typography by Robert Josephy 

Editor's Note 

Vilfredo Pareto's Trattato di Sociologia generde appears in this 
English edition as the realization of dreams and efforts that extend 
over fifteen years. My first moves towards the introduction of this 
work to the English-speaking world go back to 1920 and they were 
successful in the sense that from that date an eventual publication 
of the Trattato in English in some form or other was assured. I 
had published what I believe to be the first American note on 
Pareto December 3, 1915 {Nation)^ and the second in 1916 {hiter- 
national Year Boo^). These two articles were anterior to Professor 
Robinson's now famous footnote on Pareto in his Mind in the 
Making, 1921. I reviewed Pareto's Trasformazione delta demo- 
crazia, with allusions to the Trattato in the New York Herald, 
April 19, 1922, and gave what I believe to have been the first Ameri- 
can course on the Trattato in Will Durant's Labor College in New 
York in the autumn of that same year. I introduced Pareto for the 
first time to large audiences at meetings of the Foreign Policy 
Association in New York in December, 1923, and in Philadelphia, 
January, 1924, and lectured on him again at Columbia in the sum- 
mer of 1924 and during the spring of 1925. An article called "The 
Myth of Good English" which I published in Century, August, 
1925, and which Edward Valentine Mitchell, of Hartford, included 
in his Essays of 7925, made explicit reference to Pareto's theory of 
group-persistences. Disregarding the much writing and lecturing 
that I did on Pareto between 1925 and 1930, I will note that an 
article I published in Nation, May, 1926, in view of a certain reso- 
nance that it chanced to obtain in the West, I at the time regarded 
and still regard as the beginning of the Pareto vogue in America. 
To summarize, and saving correction, the enterprise that finds its 
completion in these volumes was at least five years old at the time 
of the opening of Professor Henderson's epoch-making seminar in 
Harvard; eight years old when Mr. Aldous Huxley first called 
public attention to Pareto in England; thirteen years old at the 



time when the Pareto vogue burst upon us in full force as the result 
of Mr. Canby's notes in the Saturday Revietd/ of Literature, and of 
Mr. DeVoto's brilliant, spirited and effective campaign in that 
same review and in Harper's, 1933. 

I must beg the reader's forgiveness for mentioning these facts 
just here in this form. I do so only because a voluminous Pareto 
literature already exists in which they are differently, and some- 
times fantastically, recounted. 

This enterprise in publishing has been promoted since 1920 on 
the assumption that there is no priesthood of learning from which 
the profane are to be forever excluded by reticence on the part of 
those who know. It is my faith, which I assert as a faith, and per- 
haps quia absurdum, that the general public is interested, and has 
an interest, in objective thinking apart from sentiment, and in the 
methods by which the rational state of mind can be cultivated in 
the face of the countless pitfalls that environment, temperament, 
the struggle for life, strew in our way. I believe — again an act of 
faith — that the work that is here offered to the public is the greatest 
and noblest effort in that direction to which literary history can 

That faith betrays itself, to the extent of the capacities of four 
words, in the title which I have ventured to give this work in pref- 
erence to the original title. I am aware that there are other points 
of view from which Pareto's masterpiece may be envisaged (I even 
share some of them) and for which the original title would better 
serve. But from the outset the chief purpose in this enterprise has 
been to make the Trattato accessible to the general public to which 
it belongs. I have called it "The Mind and Society" because it 
illumines the whole relation of thought to conduct, and of thought 
to sentiment, and the relation of the individual in all his mental 
processes to the society in which he lives. That particular stress may 
not reflect Pareto's original stress and intent. It certainly represents 
his objective achievement. 

This edition is a reproduction without any abbreviations or omis- 
sions of the last, the 1923, edition of the Trattato in its Italian 


original. One or two explanations will be in point, however. 

The division into volumes is quite arbitrary and is based on 
typographical considerations only. The Italian original is in three 
volumes. M. Boven's French translation is in two. The larger units 
in the treatise are the chapters. The smaller unit is the paragraph, 
for which I retain a peculiar system of numbering that Pareto used, 
with one variation or another, in many of his writings. Strange as 
it may appear to the general reader this device justifies itself once 
one reflects that the inductive and deductive portions of the exposi- 
tion are closely related, that the theory is built up systematically 
like an architectural structure in which the parts are all mutually 
explanatory and where a cross-reference is now and again most 

Pareto first expounded the subject matter of these volumes in 
the form of lectures that were delivered orally and taken down 
stenographically. Many traces of that origin survive in the body 
of the printed Italian text. In this translation I eliminate them. 
Pareto also makes frequent remarks as to the mechanism of his 
book or as to his manner of developing his thought. Such comments 
I regularly throw into footnotes, and in so doing I merely general- 
ize a device that Pareto used to an extent himself. Pareto's original 
contains a number of repetitions. These too I eliminate, barring 
exception, inserting cross-references if anything is to be gained by 
them. In cases where substantial departures from Pareto's text are 
made, I warn and explain in footnotes. 

There has been some public speculation of late as to the whys and 
wherefores of the many delays that have occurred in the appearance 
of "The Mind and Society." As a venture in publishing this enter- 
prise has been replete with surprises, difficulties, paradoxes, from 
its very inception fifteen years ago. As a bookmaking enterprise 
it has consumed some 9,000 hours of my personal toil spread over 
the last five years. Nearly half of that has gone into editing the 
bibliographical material in the notes. Unimportant, from any 
ordinary point of view, as such problems were, it really seemed 
that if , in a spirit of textual fidelity, one were compelled to reprint 


references such as "F. H. G., XIV, 378," or "Antonio in Melissa," 
one might as well know what they meant, even if Pareto himself 
never knew or had known and forgotten. I have therefore in many 
respects amplified Pareto's bibliographical apparatus, and indeed 
quite generally used a reference system that is all my own, and 
which, within the limits of human frailty, should be exact. 

I believe that up to this time I must be the only person, not 
excluding Pareto himself, who has ever made a careful reading of 
his notes throughout in the shape in which he left them. One 
reason for that belief is that actually as a result of gross misprinting 
they are often unreadable in the garbled forms in which they appear 
in the Barbera or the Boven editions (try, for instance, in those 
volumes, the quotations from St. Peter Damian, or, even, one or two 
of those from Tacitus). I believe it has been worth the trouble to 
open this treasure store of enjoyment and learning by making these 
texts available in English ; and I will further add that ninety percent 
of them at least are from books of the first order, books that made 
their marks in their day and that still tower above the surface of 
the vast intellectual production of the ages. The trait was charac- 
teristic of Pareto's method of work. In solving the problem of the 
library, which confronts every scholar, he made for the great beacons 
of culture, disregarding monographic minutiae. 

In the notes in this edition the translations of quoted texts are, 
as a rule, mine whatever the English translations I may mention in 
the references. This procedure was adopted for purely practical 
reasons, and not in any spirit of disrespect for such magnificent 
versions as Friedlander's, for instance, of "The Guide of the Per- 
plexed," or many others that I might mention. I simply found in 
practice that it was better to translate the notes with Pareto's specific 
comment and stress in mind, if I were to spare the reader many 
editorial notes that would have been otherwise required to make 
things fit together accurately. An example would be the use I have 
actually made of the Bostock-Riley version of Pliny in one or two 
paragraphs. The utility of the double references that I often make 
will, I think, be self-evident. In addition to serving as a double check 


on possible misprints, they should prove useful to readers who may 
care to see ampler contexts of interesting quotations either in the 
originals from which they were taken or in standard translations. 
Where Pareto quotes from English writers the originals are, of 
course, restored. 

In solving these thousands of bibliographical problems, finding 
these hundreds of books, identifying exact references, correcting 
texts on the originals and checking the translations, I would still 
be nowhere save for the devoted assistance of Mr. Charles H. Tutt 
and Miss Elisabeth Abbott, to whom I must extend my sincerest 
appreciation for their rapid, accurate and ingenious researches on 
hundreds of points. I must also thank Miss Abbott for her pains- 
taking work in twice copying and proofreading my manuscript; 
Mr. Gaudence Megaro for valuable researches on a number of 
points, and the indispensable Miss Isabel Lord for the relentless war 
she has waged (and doubtless could still wage) on my typographical 
and other inconsistencies. Presuming to speak now in behalf of 
Paretan studies in America, I would still have to add many words 
of appreciation for two gentlemen whose names a code of ethics, 
which they perhaps too rigorously enforce, keeps from appearing 
in this note. Their diplomacy and courage have helped this enter- 
prise over many barriers that without them would truly have 
seemed insuperable. It is with deep regret that I find myself re- 
stricted to this indirect allusion. 

Another regret is that this edition must go to press without a 
critical introduction to Pareto from some outstanding American 
scholar. Pareto, however, was most averse to any introduction that 
should attempt to summarize, epitomize or otherwise interpret his 
thought. He left directions covering the point with his heirs and 
the prohibition was included formally in our agreement with them. 





Statement of points of view. Logico-experimental and non- 
logical experimental sciences. Differences between them. The 
experimental field is absolutely and in all respects distinct from 
the non-experimental field. In these volumes we are to confine 
ourselves strictly to the experimental field. Our research is essen- 
tially relative, essentially contingent, and all the propositions we 
enunciate are to be taken as valid only "within the limits of 
time, space and experience known to us." Such a research is 
in process of continuous development; it proceeds by successive 
approximations and in no wise aims at attaining the certain, 
the necessary, the absolute. The language of the logico-experi- 
mental and non-logico-experimental sciences and ordinary lan- 
guage. Explanation of various terms that are used in these 
volumes. Definitions are mere labels that are used to help us 
keep track of things. Names defined in that way may be re- 
placed at will with letters of the alphabet. 


Definition and classification of logical and non-logical actions. 
The latter are sometimes admirably adapted to the realization 
of logical purposes. Non-logical action in animals. In human 
beings. Human language. In human beings non-logical impulses 
are sometimes expressed in language. Theology and rites of wor- 
ship. Theories and the facts in which they originate. Different 
intensities in different peoples of the forces that hold certain 
non-logical inclinations together and of the forces that prompt 
innovation. The Romans and the Athenians, the English and 
the French. Mysterious powers that words seem to have over 
things. The extreme limits of theological and metaphysical 
theories. In the manifestations of non-logical impulses there is 
a constant element and an element that is exceedingly variable. 
Example: Weather-magic. Interpretations adapt themselves to 


the non-logical inclination of people. They show a multiple 
evolution. A first encounter with the necessity of making a sharp 
distinction between the logico-experimental truth of a doctrine 
and its social utility or any other utility that it may have. The 
logical form human beings give to non-logical actions. 

DUCT 171 
If non-logical actions are of such great importance how have the 
many men of talent who have concerned themselves with 
human societies failed to perceive them? They have perceived 
them, now taking them into account implicitly, now considering 
them under other names without arriving at any general theory, 
now noting the particular case without grasping its general 
bearing. Examples from various authors. The imperfection, from 
the scientific standpoint, of ordinary language tends to promote 
logical interpretations of non-logical conduct. Examples. Human 
beings are somehow prone to shun considering non-logical 
actions and therefore to disguise them with logical vestments of 
one sort or another. Classification of the devices that are used 
for that purpose. Comment on the various categories. The atti- 
tude of practical men towards non-logical conduct. 


The ordinary terms "religion," "morality," "law." Do they cor- 
respond to anything definite? Study of the term "religion." The 
terms "natural law" and "law of nations." Type-doctrines and. 
deviations from them. The materials that go into theories and 
the nexuses by which they are brought together. Examples. The 
use sociology makes of facts. The unknown has to be explained 
by the known. The present helps to an understanding of the past 
and to some lesser extent the past to understand the present. 
Probability of the conclusions that science reaches. Classification 
of propositions that add something to the uniformity that ex- 
perience reveals, or which ignore it. Studv of abstract entities 
known independently of experience. 



How get from a theory to the facts in which it may possibly 
originate? Theories in which abstract entities are exphcitly 
referred to origins that lie beyond experience. Summary of the 
results that our induction so far has achieved. The chief one is 
that in non-logico-experimental theories, c, there is a quasi- 
constant element, a, and a very variable element, b. The ele- 
ment a is the principle that is functioning in the mind of the 
human being, b is the explanation he gives of it or of the con- 
duct which it inspires. Some examples. In theories that add 
something to experience, premises oftentimes are left at least par- 
tially implicit, yet those premises play a very important role in the 
reasoning that is used to constitute the theory. Efforts that have 
been made to derive doctrines, c, from arbitrary principles, a. 

Biographical Note 

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born in Paris, July 15, 1848. 
He died at Celigny, near Geneva, Switzerland, August 19, 1923. His 
birth in Paris was incidental, though his mother was a French- 
woman, Marie Mettenier, and his father, the Marquis Raflaele 
Pareto, had become a naturalized French citizen. The Paretos were 
Genoese, and since the days when Napoleon Bonaparte conferred 
a coronet on Vilfredo Pareto's grandfather, Agostino, the family 
had been distinguished as conspirators in the cause of Italian 
independence, and as statesmen. Furious Liberals and Mazzinians, 
they fought for Italy against Austria and for an Italian republic 
against Cavour and the monarchists. The Marquis Agostino rep- 
resented the Republic of Genoa at Vienna in 18 15. The Marquis 
Lorenzo, an uncle of Vilfredo, was involved in the conspiracy of 
Santarosa, went on to ministerial honors under Charles Albert of 
Savoy, and was President of the Italian Senate under Victor 
Emmanuel II. In 1856 an aunt by marriage of Pareto's, an Irish- 
woman, hid Mazzini in her house and sewed him into a mattress 
when the police came to arrest him. The Marquis Raifaele himself 
was in exile in Paris at the time of Vilfredo's birth. 

Before the Corsican adventurer made nobles of the Paretos, the 
family had for generations been prominent in the mercantile bour- 
geoisie of Genoa. Actually Paretos are numerous all along the two 
Rivieras into Catalonia. A Bartolommeo Pareto was famous as an 
astronomer in Catalonia in the days of Columbus. 

Vilfredo Pareto left Paris for Turin when he was eleven years 
old, his father, who was an engineer of note, having accepted a post 
in the railways under the first great administrator of the new Italy, 
Quintino Sella. The young man seemed to have inherited his 
father's talents as a mathematician, but he was just as brilliant in 
the classics and in history. He completed his elementary education 
at Turin and graduated from the celebrated Polytechnic Institute 
in that city at the age of twenty-two. His dissertation dealt with 


"the index functions of equilibrium in solid bodies." Adepts in 
mysteries of that sort recognized already in that treatise the germ 
that was to produce such wonders as Note 2022^ in the treatise 
hereafter following. 

Faced with the problem of a career, Pareto followed his father 
through the famous Breach in Porta Pia into a post in the railways 
at Rome. He was to work four years as a consulting engineer in the 
new capital of the kingdom. In 1874 lie passed into the employ of 
the Banca Nazionale of Florence, which selected him as general 
superintendent of three iron mines that it owned in the Valley of 
the Arno. He held this post for six years. They were the critical 
years of his career. As a manager of an important business enter- 
prise he was drawn into the question of free-trade and protection 
and first began to interest himself in economic questions. On the 
theoretical side he became impressed with the fact that there was a 
great deal of "literature" and very little "science" in the political 
economy that was practised and especially preached in those days. 
On the practical side he became disgusted with the restraints that 
a government puts upon free initiative when bureaucracy begins to 
regulate and manage business. He stood for parliament for the dis- 
trict of Pistoia on the free-trade platform and was defeated. 

In Florence during these years he made decisive friendships — 
Domenico Comparetti, the revered and greatly beloved author of 
Virgil in the Middle Ages, Arturo Linnacher, a learned classicist, 
Sydney Sonnino, the statesman, Giustino Fortunato, the biographer 
of Giordano Bruno. They were all members of a company of bril- 
hant minds that foregathered in the salon of Emilia Toscanelli- 
Peruzzi, one of the most charming hostesses of that era in the life 
of Florence. At this time, too, Pareto fell under the spell of Auguste 
Comte's writings, and began seriously to ponder the problems of 
scientific sociology. On his father's death in '82, his mother came 
to live with him and he retired with her and his wife — for he was 
now married — on the small competence that was left him, to Villa 
Rosa in Fiesole, with the idea of preparing himself for a professor- 
ship in economics. For twelve years he knocked in vain at the doors 
of academic Italy, though the papers he read before the Academy 


of the Georgiofili attracted wide attention. His great friend during 
this period was the economist, MafTeo Pantaleoni, who figured in 
the next decisive change in Pareto's life. Pareto had had a poor 
opinion of Leon Walras, the great Swiss economist. Pantaleoni not 
only opened Pareto's eyes to the merits of Walras but opened the 
eyes of Walras to the merits of Pareto. Invited to nominate his own 
successor to the chair of political economy at Lausanne in 1894, 
Walras designated Pareto. 

Pareto bade farewell to his country with a certain bitterness, 
which manifested itself in a consistent scorn for such honors as, 
in the days of his greatness, it would willingly have accorded him. 
Already he had conceived that utter contempt for plutocratic 
democracy which finds its completest expression in "The Mind and 
Society." He was convinced that ten men of courage could at any 
time march on Rome and put the band of "speculators" that were 
filling their pockets and ruining Italy to flight. During the great 
years in Switzerland he scanned the heavens continually for any 
signs of the certain cataclysm, and thought he saw them, now in 
1904 when the Czar's visit to Italy was cancelled in deference to a 
Socialist protest, now in 1914 when all northern Italy rushed into 
the wild orgies of the "Red Week." When, in 1922, the unspeakable 
Facta was frightened by the March on Rome into one of the most 
abject surrenders known to history, Pareto was able to rise from a 
sick-bed and utter a triumphant "I told you so!" — the bitter exult- 
ance of the justified prophet, not the assertion, and by far, of a wish. 

As the "Socialist Systems" followed on the Cours and the Manuale 
on the "Socialist Systems," Pareto moved to the forefront in social 
science in Europe as one of the founders, if not the founder, of 
mathematical economics and of mathematical sociology, and the 
measure of that eminence was furnished by the jubilee which was 
celebrated in his honor by his colleagues in science in 1917. Mean- 
time he had acquired a quite different sort of fame in both Italy 
and France by a long list of trenchant comments on European and 
world affairs which he contributed to newspapers in Paris, Rome, 
Turin and Genoa. Noteworthy in this regard was his association 
with the group of the Independence in Paris, headed by Georges 


Sorel. In 1907 he had inherited a considerable fortune from a 
parallel branch of his family. He had already settled in the villa 
at Celigny with which his later years were associated. Born gentle- 
man that he was, he was famous among his friends for his indif- 
ference to the exteriors that go with wealth and fame. There is a 
legend that the whole Traitato was written in one pair of shoes and 
one suit of clothes, and anecdotes abound in that sense. Giving a 
lecture before a convention of scientists at Geneva, Pareto was 
interrupted from the floor by a patronizing cry from Gustav 
Schmoller, an economist of the then German Strassburg: "But are 
there laws in economics?" Schmoller had no personal acquaintance 
with Pareto at the time. After the lecture Pareto recognized his 
heckler on the street and sidled up to him in his shabby clothes 
and in guise of a beggar: "Please, sir, can you direct me to a res- 
taurant where one can eat for nothing.?" "Not where you can eat 
for nothing, my good man," the German replied, "but here is one 
where you can eat for very little!" "So there are laws in economics!" 
laughed Pareto as he turned away. 

At the time of his death Pareto had accepted a royal appoint- 
ment to the Italian Senate, and was nominally economic delegate 
of Italy to the League of Nations. Pareto married twice, the first 
time unhappily. His second wife was a Frenchwoman, Jane Regis, 
to whom "The Mind and Society" was dedicated. 

A. L. 


Cours d'economte politique projessS a I'universite de Lausanne (2 vols., Lau- 
sanne, 1896-97) 
Les Systemes socialistes (Paris, 1902-03) 
Manuale di economia politica (Milano, 1906) 
Manuel d'economie politique, translation and revision of Manuale (Paris, 

Le mythe vertuiste et la litterature immorale (Paris, 191 1, new ed., 1920) 
Trattato di Sociologia generale (ist ed., 2 vols., Florence, 1916; 2nd ed., 

Florence, 1923) 
Traite de Sociologie generale (2 vols., Paris, 1917) 
Fatti e teorie (Firenze, 1920) 
Trasjormazione delta democrazia (Milano, 1921) 


Volume I: Non-Logical Conduct 


The Scientific Approach 

1. Human society is the subject of many researches. Some of them 
constitute speciaHzed disciplines: law, political economy, political 
history, the history of religions, and the like. Others have not yet 
been distinguished by special names. To the synthesis of them all, 
which aims at studying human society in general, we may give the 
name of sociology. 

2. That definition is very inadequate. It may perhaps be improved 
upon — but not much ; for, after all, of none of the sciences, not even 
of the several mathematical sciences, have we strict definitions. Nor 
can we have. Only for purposes of convenience do we divide the 
subject-matter of our knowledge into various parts, and such divi- 
sions are artificial and change in course of time. Who can mark the 
boundaries between chemistry and physics, or between physics and 
mechanics? And what are we to do with thermodynamics? If we 
locate that science in physics, it will fit not badly there ; if we put it 
with mechanics, it will not seem out of place; if we prefer to make 
a separate science of it, no one surely can find fault with us. Instead 
of wasting time trying to discover the best classification for it, it will 
be the wiser part to examine the facts with which it deals. Let us put 
names aside and consider things. 

In the same way, we have something better to do than to waste 
our time deciding whether sociology is or is not an independent 
science — whether it is anything but the "philosophy of history" 
under a different name; or to debate at any great length the methods 
to be followed in the study of sociology. Let us keep to our quest for 
the relationships between social facts, and people may then give to 
that inquiry any name they please. And let knowledge of such rela- 
tionships be obtained by any method that will serve. We are inter- 
ested in the end, and much less or not at all interested in the means 

by which we attain it. 



3. In considering the definition of sociology just above we found it 
necessary to hint at one or two norms that we intend to follow in 
these volumes. We might do the same in other connexions as occa- 
sion arises. On the other hand, we might very well set forth our 
norms once and for all. Each of those procedures has its merits and 
its defects. Here we prefer to follow the second.* 

4. The principles that a writer chooses to follow may be put for- 
ward in two different ways. He may, in the first place, ask that his 
principles be accepted as demonstrated truths. If they are so accepted, 
all their logical implications must also be regarded as proved. On the 
other hand, he may state his principles as mere indications of one 
course that may be followed among the many possible. In that case 
any logical implication which they may contain is in no sense dem- 
onstrated in the concrete, but is merely hypothetical — ^hypothetical 
in the same manner and to the same degree as the premises from 
which it has been derived. It will therefore often be necessary to 
abstain from drawing such inferences: the deductive aspects of the 
subject will be ignored, and relationships be inferred from the facts 

Let us consider an example. Suppose Euclid's postulate that a 
straight line is the shortest distance between two points is set before 
us as a theorem. We must give battle on the theorem; for if we con- 
cede it, the whole system of Euclidean geometry stands demon- 
strated, and we have nothing left to set against it. But suppose, on 
the contrary, the postulate be put forward as a hypothesis. We are 
no longer called upon to contest it. Let the mathematician develop 
the logical consequences that follow from it. If they are in accord 
with the concrete, we will accept them; if they seem not to be in 
such accord, we will reject them. Our freedom of choice has not 
been fettered by any anticipatory concession. Considering things 
from that point of view, other geometries — non-Euclidean geome- 
tries — are possible, and we may study them without in the least sur- 
rendering our freedom of choice in the concrete. 

3 ^ In the first chapter of my Manuale I examined with special regard to political 
economy several subjects that are touched upon here with regard to sociology. 


If before proceeding with their researches mathematicians had in- 
sisted upon deciding whether or not the postulate of EucHd corre- 
sponded to concrete reality, geometry would not exist even today. 
And that observation is of general bearing. All sciences have ad- 
vanced when, instead of quarrelling over first principles, people 
have considered results. The science of celestial mechanics developed 
as a result of the hypothesis of the law of universal gravitation. 
Today we suspect that that attraction may be something different 
from what it was once thought to be; but even if, in the light of 
new and better observations of fact, our doubts should prove well 
founded, the results attained by celestial mechanics on the whole 
would still stand. They would simply have to be retouched and sup- 

5. Profiting by such experience, we are here setting out to apply 
to the study of sociology the methods that have proved so useful in 
the other sciences. We do not posit any dogma as a premise to our | 
research; and our statement of principles serves merely as an indi- 
cation of that course, among the many courses that might be chosen, 
which we elect to follow. Therefore anyone who joins us along such 
a course by no means renounces his right to follow some other. 
From the first pages of a treatise on geometry it is the part of the 
mathematician to make clear whether he is expounding the geome- 
try of Euclid, or, let us say, the geometry of Lobachevski. But that 
is just a hint; and if he goes on and expounds the geometry of 
Lobachevski, it does not follow that he rejects all other geometries. 
In that sense and in no other should the statement of principles 
which we are here making be taken. 

6. Hitherto sociology has nearly always been expounded dogmati- 
cally. Let us not be deceived by the word "positive" that Comte 
foisted upon his philosophy. His sociology is as dogmatic as Bos- 
suet's Discourse on Universal History. It is a case of two different 
religions, but of religions nevertheless ; and religions of the same sort 
are to be seen in the writings of Spencer, De Greef, Letourneau, and 
numberless other authors. 

Faith by its very nature is exclusive. If one believes oneself pos- 


sessed of the absolute truth, one cannot admit that there are any 
other truths in the world. So the enthusiastic Christian and the pug- 
nacious free-thinker are, and have to be, equally intolerant. For the 
believer there is but one good course; all others are bad. The Mo- 
hammedan will not take oath upon the Gospels, nor the Christian 
upon the Koran. But those who have no faith whatever will take 
their oath upon either Koran or Gospels — or, as a favour to our hu- 
manitarians, on the Social Contract of Rousseau; nor even would 
they scruple to swear on the Decameron of Boccaccio, were it only 
to see the grimace Senator Berenger would make and the brethren 
of that gentleman's persuasion.^ We are by no means asserting that 
sociologies derived from certain dogmatic principles are useless ; just 
as we in no sense deny utility to the geometries of Lobachevski or 
Riemann. We simply ask of such sociologies that they use premises 
and reasonings which are as clear and exact as possible. "Humani- 
tarian" sociologies we have to satiety — they are about the only ones 
that are being published nowadays. Of metaphysical sociologies 
(with which are to be classed all positive and humanitarian sociol- 
ogies) we suffer no dearth. Christian, Catholic, and similar sociolo- 
gies we have to some small extent. Without disparagement of any 
of those estimable sociologies, we here venture to expound a sociol- 
ogy that is purely experimental, after the fashion of chemistry, 
physics, and other such sciences.^ In all that follows, therefore, we 
intend to take only experience ^ and observation as our guides. So far 
as experience is not contrasted with observation, we shall, for love of 
brevity, refer to experience alone. When we say that a thing is at- 
tested "by experience," the reader must add "and by observation." 

6 ^ [Senator Rene Berenger (1830-1915), a bete noire of Pareto and one of the 
villains in this long story, was president of the French Federation des societes contre 
la pornographie, and was the author, among other things, of a Manuel pratique 
pour la lutte contre la pornographie (Paris, 1907) and of a Rapport (to the French 
Senate, 1895) . . . sur la prostitution et les outrages aux bonnes mceurs. — A. L.] 

6 ^ For greater detail on this point, see Sensini, La teoria della rendita, and 
Boven, Les applications mathematiques a I'economie politique. 

6 ^ [In Italian the word esperienza contains the meaning of "experiment" as well 
as "experience" and the word "experience" is so used in this translation, barring 
specification to the contrary. — A. L.] 


When we speak of "experimental sciences," the reader must supply 
the adjective "observational," and so on. 

7. Current in any given group of people are a number of proposi- 
tions, descriptive, preceptive, or otherwise. For example: "Youth 
lacks discretion." "Covet not thy neighbour's goods, nor thy neigh- 
bour's wife." "Love thy neighbour as thyself." "Learn to save if you 
would not one day be in need." Such propositions, combined by 
logical or pseudo-logical nexuses and amplified with factual narra- 
tions ^ of various sorts, constitute theories, theologies, cosmogonies, 
systems of metaphysics, and so on. Viewed from the outside without 
regard to any intrinsic merit with which they may be credited by 
faith, all such propositions and theories are experimental facts, and 
as experimental facts we are here obliged to consider and examine 

8. That examination is very useful to sociology; for the image of 
social activity is stamped on the majority of such propositions and 
theories, and often it is through them alone that we manage to gain 
some knowledge of the forces which are at work in society — that is, 
of the tendencies and inclinations of human beings. For that reason 
we shall study them at great length in the course of these volumes. 

, Propositions and theories have to be classified at the very outset, for' 
classification Js a first step that is almost indispensable if one would 
have an adequate grasp of any great number of differing objects.^ 
To avoid endless repetition of the words "proposition" and "theory," 
we shall for the moment use only the latter term; but whatever we 
say of "theories" should be taken as applying also to "propositions," 
barring specification to the contrary. 

9. For the man who lets himself be guided chiefly by sentiment — 
for the believer, that is — there are usually but two classes of theories : 
there are theories that are true and theories that are false. The terms 

7 ^ ["Narration," narrazione , is a technical term with Pareto, used for a recital 
of facts seriatim quite apart from any interpretation, organization or "thought." — 
A. L.] 

8 ^ The classification that is bar-ly suggested here will be amply dealt with in 
later chapters. 







"true" and "false" are left vaguely defined. They are felt rather than 

10. Oftentimes three further axioms are present: 

1. The axiom that every "honest" man, every "intelligent" human 
being, must accept "true" propositions and reject "false" ones. The 
person w^ho fails to do so is either not honest or not rational. The- 
ories, it follows, have an absolute character, independent of the 
minds that produce or accept them. 

2. The axiom that every proposition w^hich is "true" is also "bene- 
ficial," and vice versa. When, accordingly, a theory has been shov^^n 
to be true, the study of it is complete, and it is useless to inquire 
whether it be beneficial or detrimental. 

3. At any rate, it is inadmissible that a theory may be beneficial 
to certain classes of society and detrimental to others — yet that is an 
axiom of modern currency, and many people deny it without, how- 
ever, daring to voice that opinion. 

11. Were we to meet those assertions with contrary ones, we too 
would be reasoning a priori; and, experimentally, both sets of asser- 
tions would have the same value — zero.' If we would remain within 
the realm of experience, we need simply determine first of all 
whether the terms used in the assertions correspond to some experi- 
mental reality, and then whether the assertions are or are not cor- 
roborated by experimental facts. But in order to do that, we are 

.^' ^bliged to admit the possibility of both a positive and a ne gative 
answer ; for it is evident that if we bar one of those two possibilities 
a priori, we shall be giving a solution likewise a priori to the prob- 
lem we have set ourselves, instead of leaving the solution of it to 
experience as we proposed doing. 

12. Let us try therefore to classify theories, using the method we 
would use were we classifying insects, plants, or rocks. We perceive 
at once thal(a theory is not a homogeneous entity,] such as the "ele- 
ment" known to chemistry. A theory^ rather, is like a rock, wh ich is 
made up of a number of elements . In a theory one may detect de- 
scriptive elements, axiomatic assertions, and functionings of certain 
entities, now concrete, now abstract, now real, now imaginary; and 


§13 theories: classification 9 

all such things may be said to constitute the matter of the theory. 
But there are other things in a theory: there are logical or pseudo- 
logical arguments, appeals to sentiment, "feelings," traces of religious 
and ethical beliefs, and so on; and such things may be thought of as 
constituting the instrumentalities whereby the "matter" mentioned 
above is utilized in order to rear the structure that we call a theory. 
Here, already, is one aspect under which theories may be considered. 
It is sufficient for the moment to have called attention to it.^ 

13. In the manner just described, the structure has been reared — 
the theory exists. It is now one of the objects that we are trying to 
classify. We may consider it under various aspects : 

I. Objective aspect. The theory may be considered without refer- 
ence to the person who has produced it or to the person who assents 
to it — "objectively," we say, butfwithout attaching any metaphysical 
sense to the term) In order to take account of all possible combina- 
tions that may arise from the character of the matter and the char- 
acter of the nexus, we must distinguish the following classes and 

Class I. E xperimental matter 
\a. Logical nexus 
lb. Non-logical nexus 
Class II. N on-experimental matt er 
11^. Logical nexus 
11^. Non-logical nexus 

The subclasses \b and lib comprise logical sophistries, or specious 
reasonings calculated to deceive. For the study in which we are en- 
gaged they are often far less important than the subclasses la or lla. 
The subclass la comprises all the experimental sciences; we shall 
call it logico-experimental. Two other varieties may be distinguished 
in it: 

lai, comprising the type that is strictly pure, with the matter 
strictly experimental and the nexus logical. The abstractions and 

12 ^We shall discuss it at length in Chapter IV (§467). 


general principles that arc used within it are derived exclusively 
from experience and are subordinated to experience (§ 63). 

lai, comprising a deviation from the type, which brings us closer 
to Class II. Explicitly the matter is still experimental, and the nexus 
logical; but the abstractions, the general principles, acquire (im- 
plicitly or explicitly) a/ significance transcending experience^ This 
variety might be called transitional. Others of like nature might be 
considered, but they are far less important than this one. 

The classification just made, like any other that might be made, 
is dependent upon the knowledge at our command. A person who 
regards as experimental certain elements that another person regards 
as non-experimental will locate in Class I a proposition that the 
other person will place in Class II. The person who thinks he is 
using logic and is mistaken will class among logical theories a prop- 
osition that a person aware of the error will locate among the non- 
logical. The classification above is a classification of types of the- 
oriesiln reality, a given theory may be a blend of such types — it may, 
that is, contain experimental elements and non-experimental ele- 
ments, logical elements and non-logical elements.^ j 

2. Subjective aspect. Theories may be considered with reference to 
the persons who produce them and to the persons who assent to 
them. We shall therefore have to consider them under the follow- 
ing subjective aspects: 

a. Causes in view of which a given theory is devised by a given 
person. Why does a given person assert that A = B? Conversely, if 
he makes that assertion, why does he do so ? 

b. Causes in view of which a given person assents to a given theory. 
Why does a given person assent to the proposition A = B? Con- 
versely, if he gives such assent, why does he do so ? 

These inquiries are extensible from individuals to society at large. 

3. Aspect of utility. In this connexion,(it is important to keep the 

13 ^ There are theories that are logico-experimental in appearance but which sub- 
stantially are not of that character. For an interesting and very important example 
of such pseudo-logico-experimental theories, see § § 407 f . Strictly speaking, such theo- 
ries should be placed in the non-logico-experimental group. 


theory distinct from the state of mind, the sentiments, that it reflects.^ 
Certain individuals evolve a theory because they have certain senti- 
me nts; but then the theory reacts in turn upon them, as well as upon 
other i ndividuals, to produce, intensify, or modify certain senti^ 

I. Utility or detriment resulting from the sentiments reflected 

by a theory: 
la. As regards the person asserting the theory 
lb. As regards the person assenting to the theory 
II. Utility or detriment resulting from a given theory: 
W.a, As regards the person asserting the theory 
11^. As regards the person assenting to it. 

These considerations, toa are extensible to society at large. 

We may say, then, that^e are to consider propositions and the- 
ories under their objective and their subjective aspects , and also from 
the standpoint of their individual or social utility. However, the 
meanings of such terms must not be derived from their etymology, 
or from their usage in common parlance, but exclusively in the man- 
ner designated later in § 119. ' 

14. To recapitulate: Given the proposition A = B,we must answer 
the following questions : 

i( Objective aspect. Is the proposition in accord with experience, 
or is it not? \ 

2. Subjective aspect. Why do certain individuals assert that A = B? 
And why do other individuals believe that A== B? 

3. Aspect of utility. What advantage (or disadvantage) do the 
sentiments reflected by the proposition A=^ B have for the person 
who states it, and for the person who accepts it? What advantage 
(or disadvantage) does the theory itself have for the person who 
puts it forward, and for the person who accepts it ? 

In an extreme case the answer to the first question is yes; and 
then, as regards the other question, one adds: "People say (people 
believe) that A = B, because it is true." "The sentiments reflected 


in the proposition are beneficial ^ because true." '' The the ory itself 
is beneficial because true." In this extreme case, we may find that 
data of logico-experimental science are present, and then "true" 
means in accord with experience. But (also present may be data that 
by no means belong to logico-experimental science, and in such 
event "true" signifies not accord with experience but something else 
— frequently mere accord with the sentiments of the person defend- 
ing the thesis^ We shall see, as we proceed with our experimental 
research in chapters hereafter, that the following cases are of fre- 
quent occurrence in social matters: 

a. Propositions in accord with experience that are asserted and 
accepted because of their accord with sentim ents, the latter being 
now beneficial, now detrimental, to individuals or society 

b. Propositions in accord with experience that are rejected because 
they are not in accord with sentiments, and which, if accepted, 
would be detrimental to society 

c. Propositions not in accord with experience that are asserted and 
accepted because of their accord with sentiments, the latter being 
beneficial, oftentimes exceedingly so, to individuals or society 

d. Propositions not in accord with experience that are asserted and 
accepted because of their accord with sentiments, and which are 
beneficial to certain individuals, detrimental to others, and now 
beneficial, now detrimental, to society. 

( On all that we can know nothing a priori. Experience alone can 
enlighten us .| 

15. After objects have been classified, they have to be examined, 
and to that research we shall devote the next chapters. In Chapter*' 
IV and V we shall consider theories with special reference to their 
accord with experience and observation. In Chapters VI, VII, and 

14 ^ [Pareto's doctrine of utility takes Bentham's utilitarian theory as its point of 
departure. Bentham used the adjective "useful" as corresponding to "utility," the 
opposites being "harm" and "harmful." Pareto uses "useful" {utile) quite regularly. 
In this translation I have found most convenient the terms "utility," "beneficial," 
"detriment" and "detrimental," alternating, on occasion, with "advantage," "ad- 
vantageous," "disadvantageous." — A. L.] 


VIII we shall study the sentiments in which theories originate. In 
Chapters IX and X we shall consider{the ways in which sentiments 
are reflected in theories.JIn Chapter XI we shall examine the char- 
acteristics of the elements so detected. And finally in Chapters XII 
and XIII we shall see the social effects of the various elements, and 
arrive at an approximate concept of variations in the forms of so- 
ciety — the goal at which we shall have been aiming all along and 
towards which all our successive chapters will have been leading.^ 
16. From the objective standpoint (§ i3),(we divided propositions 
or theories into two great classes, the first in no way departing from 
the realm of experience , the second overstepping it in some respect 
or other .^ If one would reason at all exactly, it is essential to keep 
those two classes distinct , for at bottom they are heterogeneous 
things that must never be in any way confused , and which cannot . 
either, be compared .^ Each of them has its own manner of reason- 
ing and, in general, its own peculiar standard whereby it falls into 
two divisions, the one comprising propositions that are in logical 
accord with the chosen standard and are called true; the other com- 
prising propositions which are not in accord with that standard and 
are called false./ The terms "true" and "fa lse," therefore, st and in 
strict dependence on the standard chose nMf one should try to give 
them an absolute meaning, one would be deserting the logico-ex- 
perimental field for the field of metaphysics. 

I (^ The standard of truth for propositions of the first class lies in ex- 
perience and observation only . The standard of truth for the secon d 

. class lies outside objective experience — in some divine revelation /in 
concepts that the human mind finds in itself,jas some say, without 

~the aid of objective experience; in the universal consensus of man- 
kind, and so on. 

15 ^ In some other book we might carry the investigation begun in this one fur- 
ther and investigate the particular forms of the various social phenomena of which 
we shall here have found the general forms. 

16 ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap. I, § 37. 

16 ^ Ibid., Chap. I, §41: "Fatuous and silly is the claim of certain individuals 
that the faith they hold is 'more scientific' than the faiths of other people. Faith and 
science have nothing in common, and a faith can contain neither more nor less of 


There must never be any quarrelling over names. If someone is 
minded to ascribe a different meaning to the terms "truth" and 
"science," for our part we shall not raise the slightest objection. /We 
are satisfied^ if he specifies the sense that he means to give to the 
terms he uses and especially t he stan dard by which he recognizes a 
proposition as "true" or "false.") 

17. If that standard is not specified, it is idle to proceed with a dis- 
cussion that could only resolve itself into mere talk; just as it would 
be idle for lawyers to plead their cases in the absence of a judge. If 
someone asserts that "A has the property B," before going on with 
the discussion we must know who is to judge the controversy be- 
tween him and another person who maintains that "A does not have 
the property B." If it is agreed that the judge shall be objective ex ^ 
perience, objective experience will then decide whether A has, o r 
does not have, the property .S/ Throughout the course of these vol- 
umes, we are in the logico-experimental field. I intend to remain 
absolutely in that field and refuse to depart from it under any in- 
ducement whatsoever.ll f, therefore, the reader desires a judge o ther^ 
than objective experience, he should stop reading this book, just as 
he would refrain from proceeding with a case before a court to 
which he objected. people disposed to argue the propositions mentioned desire a 
judge other than objective experience, they will do well to declare 
exactly what their judge is to be, and if possible (it seldom is) to 
make themselves very clear on the point^ In these volumes we shall 
refrain from participating in arguments as to the substance of prop- 
ositions and theories. We are to discuss them strictly from the ou t- 
side, as social facts with which we have to deal. 

19. Metaphysicists generally give the name of "science" to knowl- 
e dge of the "essences" of things., to knowledge of "principles .? If we 
accept that definition for the moment, it would follow that this" 
work would be in no way scientific^ Not only do we refrain from 
dealing with essences and principles: we do not even know the 
meaning of those terms (§ 530) .A 

•o^^j ♦j-ncj^ o-^d cv\o J>c<l»-ctt 


Vera, Hegel's French translator, says,^ "The notions of science and 
absolute science are inseparable. . . . Now if there b e a n ab solute 
sci ence, it is not and cannotjjejjther than philosophy . So philoso phy 
i s the common foundation of all the sciences, and as it were the 
common intelligence of all intelligences .'^ In this book we refuse to 
have anything whatever to do with such a science, and with those 
other pretty things that go with itN " The absolut e (i n other words . 
essence') and unity Tin other words, the necessary relations of be- 
ings') are the two prime conditions of science. " Both of them will 
be found missing in these volumes, and we do not even know what 
they may be. We seek the relationships obtaining between jhing s 
within the limits of the space and time known to us, and we ask ■ 
experience and observation to reveal them to us. "Philosophy is at 
once an explanation and a creation." (^ We have neither the desire 1 
nor the ability to explain, in Vera's sense of the term, much less to 
create. JThe science that knows the absolute and grasps the inner- 
most reason of things knows how and why events come to pass and 
beings are engendered [That is something we do not know.], and 
not only knows but in a certain way itself engenders and brings to 
pass in the very fact of grasping the absolute. And i ndeed we must 
either deny science, or else admit that there is a point where knowl- 
edge and being, thought and its object, coincide and are identified; 
and a science of the absolute that arose apart from the absolute, and 
so failed of achieving its real and innermost nature, would not be a 
science of the absolute, or more exactly, would not be science at all." 

20. Well said! In that we agree with Vera.^If science is what 
Vera's terms describe it as being — terms as inspiring as they are (to 
us) incomprehensible — we are not here dealing with science.jWe 
are, however, dealing with another thing that Vera very well de- 
scribes in a particular case when he says, p. 214, note: "Generally 
speaking, mechanics is just a miscellany of experiential data and 
mathematical formulae. " In terms still more general, one might 
say: " a_ miscellany of experiential data and logical inferences f rom 

19 ^ Introduction a la philosophic de Hegel, pp. 78-89. 


such data." Suppose, for a moment, we call that non-science. Both 
Vera and Hegel are then right in saying that the theories of Newton 
are not science but non-science; and in these volumes I also intend to 
deal with non-science , s ince my wish is to construct a system of 
s ociology on the model of celestial mechanics, physics, chemistry, and 
other similar non-sciences, a nd eschew entirely the science or sc iences 
of the metaphysicists (§§ 503,^ 514 '). 

21. A reader might observe: "That granted, why do you contin- 
ually harp on science in the course of your book, since you use the 
term in the sense of non-science? Are you trying in that way to 
usurp for your non-science a prestige that belongs to science alone?" 

(l answer that if the word "science" ordinarily meant what the meta- 
physicists say it means, rejecting the thing, I would conscientiously 
reject the word.] But that is not the case. Many people, nay, m ost 
people, think of celestial mechanics, physics, chemistry, and s o on 
as sciences ; and(to call them non-sciences or something else of the 
sort would, I fear, be ridiculous) All the same,(if someone is still not 
satisfied, let him prefix a "non-" to the words "science" and "scien- 
tific" whenever he meets them in these volumes, and he will see that 
the exposition develops just as smoothly, since we are dealing with 
t hings and not with words (§ 119). 

22. While metaphysics proceeds from absolute principles to con- 
crete cases, [experimental science proceeds from concrete cases, not 
to absolute principles, which, so far as it is concerned, do not exist, 
but to genera lprinciples, which arcvbrought under principles still 
more general, and so on indefinitely./rhat procedure is not readily 
grasped by minds accustomed to metaphysical thinking, and it gives 
rise to not a few erroneous interpretations. 

23. Let us note, just in passing, the preconception that in order to 
know a thing its "essence" must be known. To the precise contrary, 
experimental science starts with knowledge of things, to go on, if 
not to essences, which are entities unknown to science, at least to 
general principles (§§ 19-20). Another somewhat similar concep- 
tion is widely prevalent nowadays in the fields of political economy 

§26 "true" and "false" 17 

and sociology. It holds that knowledge of things can be acquired 
only by tracing their "origins" ^ (§§93, 346). 

24JIn an attenuated form the preconception requiring knowledge 
of "essences" aims at demonstrating particular facts by means of gen- 
eral principles, instead of deriving the general principle from the 
factAJust so proof of the fact is confused with proof of its causes. 
For example, observation shows the existence of a fact A; and we 
go on and designate B, C, D . . . as its probable causes. It is later 
shown that those causes are not operative, and from that the con- 
clusion is drawn that A does not exist. The demonstration would be 
valid if the existence oi B, C,D . . . had been shown by experience 
and the existence of A inferred from them. It is devoid of the slight- 
est value if observation has yielded A directly. 

25. Close kin to the preconception just mentioned is(the difficulty 
some people experience in analyzing a situation and studying its 
various aspects separately.JWe shall have frequent occasion to return 
to this matter. Suffice it here to note that the distinctions drawn 
above in § 13 will not be recognized by many people ; and(if others 
do indeed accept them theoretically, they straightway forget them 
in actual thinking (§§ 31-32, 817).) 

26. For people of "living faith" the various characteristics of the- 
ories designated in § 13 often come down to one only. What the be- 
liever wants to know, and nothing else, is whether the proposition 
is true or not true/ Just what "true" means nobody knows, and 
the believer less than anybody. Jin a general way it seems to indicate 
accord with the believer's sentiments; but that fact is evident only 
to the person viewing the belief from the outside, as a stranger to 
it — never to the believer himself. He, as a rule, denies the subjective 
character of his belief. To tell him that it is subjective is almost to 
insult him, for he considers it true in an absolute sense. For the same 
reason he refuses ta think of the term "true" apart from the mean- 
ing he attaches to it,") and readily speaks of a truth different from 
experimental truth and superior to it.^ 

23 1 Pareto, Manuale, Chap. I, § 33. 

26 ^ With that state of mind also we shall deal at length in chapters following. 


27. It is idle to continue discussions of that type — they can only 
prove fruitless and inconclusive — unless we know exactly what the 
terms that are used mean, and unless we have a criterion to refer 
to, a judge to render judgment in the dispute (§§ i7f.).ys the cri- 
terion, the judge, to be experience and observation, or is it to be 
something elsePjThat point has to be clearly determined before we 
can go on. If you are free to choose between two judges, you may 
pick the one you like best to decide your case. But you cannot choose 
them both at the same time, unless you are sure in advance that 
they are both of one mind and one will. 

28. Of that agreement metaphysicists enjoy an a prio ri certitude, 
for their superexperimental criterion is of such majesty and power ' 
that it dominates the experimental criterio n, which must j)f neces.- 
sity accord with it. For a similar reason theologians too are certain 
a priori that the two criteria can never fail of accord. We, much . 
more humble, enjoy no such a -priori enlightenment. We have no 
knowledge whatever of what must or ought to be. We are looking 
strictly for what is. That is why we have to be satisfied with one 
judge at a time. 

29. From our point of view not even logic supplies necessary in- 
ferences, except when such inferences are mere tautologies.Vj^ogic de- 
rives its efficacy from experience and from nothing elseY§97)-^ 

30. The human mind is synthetic, and only training in the habit 
of scientific thinking enables a few individuals to distinguish the 
iparts in a whole by an analytical process (§25). Women espec ially, 
a nd the less well-educated among men, often experience an insur- 
mountable difficulty in considering the different aspects of a th ing; 
se parately, one by one. To be convinced of that^one has only to read ^ 
a newspaper article before a mixed social gathering and then try to 
discuss one at a time the various aspects under which it may be 
considered. One will notice that one's listeners do not follow, that 
they persist in considering all the aspects of the subject all together 
at one time. 

29 ^ This is not the place to deal with the question. Wc note the point in passing 
just to avoid misunderstandings. 


31. The presence of that trait in the human rnind makes it very 
difficult for both the person who is stating a proposition and the 
person who is hstening to keep (the two criteria, t h^ expe rimental 
a nd the n on-experimental, distinct. An irresistible force seems always 
t o be driving the majority of human beings to confu se them/Many 
facts of great significance to sociology find their explanation in just 
that^ as will be more clearly apparent from what follows. 

32. In the natural sciences people have finally realized the neces- 
sity of analysis in studying the various aspects of a concrete phe- 
nomenon — the analysis being followed by a synthesis in getting back 
from theory to the concrete. In the social sciences that necessity is 
still not grasped by many people. 

33. Hence the very common error of denying the truth of a theory 
because it fails to explain every aspect of a concrete fact; and the 
same error, under another form, of insisting on embracing under 
one theory all other similar or even irrelevant theories. 

Let in Figure i stand for a concrete situation. By analysis we 
distinguish within it a number of facts: c, e, g. . . . 

The fact c and others like it, a, b . . . are brought together under 
a certain theory, under a general principle, P. In the same way, e 
and facts like e (d, f . . .) yield another theory, 0; and the facts 
g, l,m,n . . . still another theory, R, and so on. These theories are 
worked out separately; then, to determine the concrete situation O, 


the results {c, e, g . . .) oi the various theories are taken together. 
After analysis comes synthesis. 

People who fail to understand that will say: "The situation pre- 
sents not only the fact e but also the fact c; therefore the theory Q 
has to account for c." That conclusion is erroneous. One should say — 
and it is the only sound conclusion: ". . . therefore the theory Q ac- 
counts for only a part of the situation 0." 

34. Example: Let Q stand for the theory of political economy. A 
concrete situation presents not only an economic aspect, e, but the 
further aspects c, g . . . oid. sociological character. It is a mistake to 

I include, as many have included, the sociological elements c, g . . . 

under political economy. The only sound conclusion to be drawn 
from the facts is that the economic theory which accounts for e must 
be supplemented (^supplemented, not replaced) by other theories 
which account for c, g. . . . 

35. In political economy itself, the theories of pure or mathe- 
matical economics have to be supplemented — not replaced — by the 
theories of applied economics. Mathematical economics aims chiefly 
at emphasizing the interdependence of economic phenomena. So far 
no other method has been found for attaining that end.^N 

36. Straightway one of those numberless unfortunates who are 
cursed with the mania for talking about things they do not under- 
stand comes forward with the discovery — lo the wonders of genius! 
— that pure economics is not applied economics, and concludes, 
not that something must be added to pure economics if we are to 

*^ understand concrete phenomena, but that pure economics must be 
replaced by his gabble, Alas, good soul, mathematical economics 
\> helps, at least, to a rough understanding of the effects of the inter- 

dependence of economic phenomena, while your gabble shows abso- 
lutely nothing! 

37. And lo, another prodigious genius, who holds that because 
many economic phenomena depend on the human will, economics 
must be replaced by psychology. But why stop at psychology ? Why 
not geography, or even astronomy ? For after all the economic factor 

35 ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap. Ill, § 228. 


is influenced by seas, continents, rivers, and above all by the Sun, 
fecundator general of "this fair family of flowers and trees and all 
earthly creatures." ^ Such prattle has been called positive economics, 
and for that our best gratitude, for it provokes a laugh, and laughter, 
good digestion! 

38. Many economists have been inclined to bring each and every 
sort of economic theory under the theory of valued True, nearly all 
economic phenomena express themselves in terms of value; but 
from that we have a right to conclude that in isolating the various 
elements in such phenomena we come upon a theory for value — but 
not that all other elements have to be squeezed into that theory. 
Nowadays people are going farther still, and value is coming to be 
the door through which sociology is made to elbow its way into 
political economy. Perhaps we ought to be thankful that they are 
stopping at that, for no end of other things might be pushed through 
the same door : psychology, to explain why and how a thing, real or 
imaginary, comes to have value; then physiology as handmaiden to 
psychology; and then — why not? — a little biology to explain the 
foundations of physiology; and surely a little mathematics, for after 
all the first member of an equation has the same value as the second 
and the theory of value would not be complete without the theory 
of equations; and so on forever. In all of which there is this much 
truth: that the concrete situation is very complex and may be re- 
garded as a compound of many elements A, B, C. . . . Experience 
teaches that to understand such a situation it is best to isolate the 
elements A, B, C . . . and examine them one by one, that we may 
then bring them together again and so get the theory of the com- 
plex as a whole. That is just what logico-experimental science does. 
But those who are unfamiliar with its methods grope blindly for- 
ward, shifting from A to B, from B to C, then every so often turn- 
ing back, mixing things up, taking refuge in words, thinking of B 
while studying A, and of something else while studying B. Worse 
yet, if you are looking into A they interrupt to remind you of B; 

37 '^ [The allusion is to Foscolo, 7 sepolcri, vv. 4-5. — A. L.] 

38 ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap. Ill, § 226; Systemes socialistes. Vol. I, pp. 338 f. 


and if you answer on B, they are off to C, jumping about now here, 
now there, prattHng ever beside the point and demonstrating one 
thing only: (their helpless innocence of any scientific method.^ 

39. Those who deny scientific status to political economy argue, 
in fact, to show that it is not adequate to explain concrete phenom- 
ena; and from that they conclude that it should be ignored in such 
explanation. The sound conclusion would be that other theories 
should be added to it. Thinking as such people think we should 
have to say that chemistry ought to be ignored in agriculture, since 
chemistry is inadequate to explain everything about a farm. More- 
over, engineering schools would have to bar pure mathematics, for 
it stands to applied mechanics almost as pure economics stands to 
applied economics. 

40. Further, it fs difficult, in fact almost impossible, to induce peo- 
ple to keep mere knowledge of the laws (uniformities) of society 
distinct from action designed to modify them. If someone is keep- 
ing strictly to such knowledge, people will insist at all costs that he 
have some practical purpose in view. They try to find out what it is, 
and, there being none, one is finally invented for him. 

41. In the same way, it is difficult to induce people not to go be- 
yond what an author says and add to the propositions he states 
others that may seem to be implicit in them but which he never had 
in mind (§§ 73 f., 311). If you note a defect in a given thing A, it is 
taken for granted that you are condemning ^ as a whole; if you 
note a good point, that you approve of ^4 as a whole. It seems in- 
credibly strange to people that you should be stressing its defects if 
you are not intending to condemn it as a whole, or its excellences if 
you are not approving of it as a whole. The inference would be 
somewhat justified in a case of special pleading, for after all it is 
not the business of the advocate to accuse his client. But it is not a 
sound inference from a plain description of fact, or when a scientist 
is seeking scientific uniformities. The inference would be admissible, 
further, in the case of an argument not of a logico-experimental 
character but based on accord of sentiments (§514). In fact, when 
one is trying to win the sympathies of others by such an argument, 


one may be expected to declare one's own sympathies ; and if that is 
not done expUcitly, people may properly assume that it is done im- 
plicidy. But ^hen we are reasoning objectively, according to the 
logico-experimental method, we are not called upon to declare our 
sentiments either explicitly or by implication^ 

42. As regards proofs, a person stating a l ogico-experimental prop- 
osition or theory (§ 13, la) asks them of observation, experience, 
and logical inferences from observation and experience. But the 
person asserting a proposition or theory that is not logico-experi- 
mental can rely only on the spontaneous assent of other minds and 
on the more or less logical inferences he can draw from what is as- 
sented to. At bottom he is exhorting^ rather than proving . However, 
that is not commonly admitted by people using non-logico-experi- 
mental theories. They pretend to be offering proofs of the same na- 
ture as the proofs offered for logico-experimental theories; and in 
such pseudo-experimental arguments they take full advantage of the 
indefiniteness of common everyday language. 

As regards persuasion,(^proofs are convincing only to minds 
trained to logico-experimental thinking.] Authority plays a great 
part even in logico-experimental propositions, though it has no status 
as proof. Passions, accords of sentiment, vagueness of terms, are of 
great effi cacy in everythinp- that is not logico-experimental (§514). 

43. In the sphere of proof, experience is powerless as against faith , 
and faith as against experience, with the result that each is confined 
t o its own domain. If John, an unbeliever, denies that God created 
Heaven and Earth, and you meet him with the authority of the 
Bible, you have made a nice round hole in the water, for he will 
deny the authority of the Bible and your argument will crumble. 
To replace the authority of the Bible with the authority of your 
"Christian experience" is a childish makeshift, for John will reply 
that his own experience inclines him not in the least to agree with 
you; and if you retort that his experience is not Christian, you will 
have reasoned in a neat circle, for it is certain that if only that ex- 
perience is Christian which leads to your results, one may conclude 


without fear of contradiction that Christian experience leads to your 
results — and by that we have learned exactly nothing, 

44. When one asserts a logico-experimental proposition (§ 13, I^), 
one can place those who contradict in the dilemma of either accept- 
ing the proposition as true or refusing credence to experience and 

n logic. Anyone adopting the latter course would be in the position 
of John, the unbeliever just mentioned: you would have no way of 
persuading him. 

45. It is therefore evident that, aside as usual from sophistical rea- 
sonings made in bad faith*, the difference as regards proofs^ between 
theories that are logico-experimental (la) and theories that are- 
not Jies chiefly in the fact that in our day in Western countries it is 
easier to find disbelievers in the Koran or the Gospels; in types of 
experience, whether Christian, personal, humanitarian, rational, or 
of whatever other kind; in the categorical imperative; or in the 
dogmas of positivism, nationalism, pacifism, and numberless other 
things of that brand, than it is to find disbelievers in logic and ex- 
perience. In dealing with other ages and countries the situation may 
be difFerent. 

46( We are in no sense intending, in company with a certain ma- 
terialistic metaphysics, to exalt logic and experience to a greater 
power and majesty than dogmas accepted by sentimenty Ou r aim is. 
to_distin guish , not to compare, and much less to pass judgment on 
the relative merits and virtues of those two sorts of thinking (§ 69). 

47. Again, we have not the remotest intention of bringing back 
through the window a conviction we have just driven out by the 
door. We in no wise assert that the l ogico-experimental p roof is 
superior to the other and is to be preferred . W e are saying simply — 
and it is something quite different — that such proof alone is to be 
used by a person concerned not t o abandon the logico-experi mental 

48. The extreme case of a person flatly repudiating all logical dis- 

47 ^ The remark is really tautological and would hardly be worth making if it 
were not so frequently forgotten by people who mix experience and faith, reasoning 
and sentiment. 


cursion, all experience, is rarely met with./Logicoexperimental con- 
siderations are commonly enough ignored, left unexpressed, crowded 
aside, by one device or another; but it is difficult to find anyone 
really combating them as enemies] That is why peop le almost a I way?; 
t ry to demonstrate theories that are not objective, no t^exp^ejri me ntal^ 
b y pseudo-logical and pseudo-experimental proof s. 

49yAll religions have proofs of that type, supplemented as a rule 
by proofs of utility to individual and society .jAnd when one religion 
replaces another, it is anxious to create the impression that its experi- 
mental proofs are of a better quality than any the declining faith can 
.marshal. (christian miracles were held to be more convincing than 
pagan miracles, jand nowadays the "scientific" proofs of "solidarity" 
and humanitarianism are considered superior to the Christian mir- 
acles.) All the sam e j the m an who pvaminps such farts withnnt th e 
assistance of faith fails to nnt-irp any great di fferenrp ig them : ^or 
him they have exactly the same scientifir vahiPj to wit-^ vrm . We are 
obliged to believe that "when Punic fury thundered from the Thrasi- 
mene" the defeat of the Romans was caused by the impious indif- 
ference of the consul Flaminius to the portents sent of the gods. 
The consul had fallen from his horse in front of the statue of Jupiter 
Stator. The sacred chickens had refused to eat. Finally, the legionary 
ensign had stuck in the ground and could not be extricated.^ We 
shall also be certain (whether more or less certain, I could not say) 
that the victory of the Crusaders at Antioch was due to the divine 
protection concretely symbolized in the Holy Lance." Then again it 

49 ^ Cicero, De divinatione , I, 35, 77: "On that occasion the standard-bearer of 
the First Spears found he could not move his ensign from where it was; and notli- 
ing could be done about it, though many came to his assistance. But when the thing 
was reported to Flaminius he, as was his usual habit, paid no attention; and so, 
within three hours, his army was cut to pieces and he himself was slain." [The lit- 
erary allusion in "Punic fury" is to Carducci, "Alle jonti del Clitumno" (Poesie, p. 
803).— A. L.] 

49 ^ Michaud, Histoire des croisades, 1877 ed.. Vol. I, p. 94: "Many of the Cru- 
saders attributed the victory they had won over the Saracens to the discovery of the 
Holy Lance. Raymond d'Agiles avers that the enemy dared not approach battalions 
in the midst of which the miraculous weapon could be seen glistening." Idem, Bibli- 
otheqiie des croisades, Vol. I, pp. 33-34: "Raymond d'Agiles adds that none of the 
men fighting about the Holy Lance suffered any harm. 'If someone objects,' he con- 


is certain, in fact the height of certitude, because attested by a better 
and more modern religion, that Louis XVI of France lost his throne 
and his life simply because he did not love to the degree required 
his good, his darling, people. The humanitarian god of democracy 
never suffers such offences to go unpunished ! 

50. Experimental sc ien ce has no dogmas, not even the dogma tha t 
experimental facts can be explained only by experien ce. If the con- 
trary w^ere seen to be the case, experimental science would accept 
the fact, as it accepts every other fact of observatio n. And it in truth 
accepts the proposition that inventions may at times be promoted 
by non-experimental principles, and does so because that proposition 
is in accord with the results of experience.^ But^o far as demonstra- 
tion goes, the history of human knowledge clearly shows that all 
attempts to explain natural phenomena by means of propositions 
derived from religious or metaphysical principles have failedjfSuch 
attempts have finally been abandoned in astronomy, geology, physi- 
ology, and all other similar sciences^ If traces of them are still to be 
found in sociology and its subbranches, law, political economy, 
ethics, and so on, that is simply because in those fields a strictly 
scientific status has not yet been attained.^ 

51. One of the last efforts to subordinate experience to m etaphysics 
wa s made b y Hegel in his Philosophy of Nature, a w ork which, in 
all frankness, attains and oversteps the limits oF comic absurdity^ ^ 

52. On the other hand, in our day people are beginning to repudi- 
ate dogmas that usurp status as experimental science. Sectarians of 
the humanitarian cult are wont to meet the "fictions" of the religion 
they are combating with the "certainty" of science. But that "cer- 
tainty" is just one of their preconceptions.|Scien tific theories a re 

tinues, 'that the Vicomte Heracle, standard-bearer to the Bishop, was wounded, that 
was because he had handed the banner to another person and had moved some 
distance away.' " 
50 ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap. I, §§45, 51. 

50 2 Experiment is helpful even in mathematics. As is well known, modern 
analysis has discredited by experimental data a number of theories that were con- 
sidered certain on the basis of sense-perceptions of space. 

51 ^Pareto, Systemes socialistes, Vol. II, pp. 71 f.; Manuel, pp. 35, note i; 14, 
note I. 


m ere hypotheses, which endure so lon g as they acco rd with the fact s 
and which die and vanish from the scene as new investigations d^ ^ 
I -stroyjkar accord. ..They are then superseded by new ones for which 
a similar fate is held in store (§ 22). _J 

53. Let us assume that a certain number of facts are given. The 
1. problem of discovering their theory may be solved in more than one 
1 way. A number of theories may satisfy the data equally well, and 

the choice between them may sometimes be determined by subjec- 
tive considerations, such as preference for greater simplicity (§64). 

54. In both logico-experimental (la) and non-logico-experimental 
theories, one gets certain general propositions called "principles," 
logically deducible from which are inferences constituting theories. 
Such principles differ entirely in character in the two kinds of the- 
ories mentioned. 

■ Y^55.^In logico-experimental theories (la) principles are no thing but 
i abstract propositions summarizing the traits common to many dif- 
I £ci(^nr far.rsjThe principles de pend on the factSj not the facts on the 
principles. They are governed by the facts, not the facts by them. 
(They are accepted hypothetically only so long and so far as they are 
in agreement with the facts; and they are rejected as soon as there is 
disagreement (§63). s\ 
^ "T 56. /But scattered through non-logico-experimental theories one 
finds principles that are accepted a priori, independently of ex- 
perience, dictating to experience.) They do not depend upon the 
facts; the facts depend upon them. They govern the facts; they are 
not governed by them. vThey are accepted without regard to the 
facts, which must of necessity accord with the i nfere nces deducible 
from the principles ;jand if they seem to disagree, one argument 
after another is tried until one is found that successfully re-estab- 
lishes the accord, which can never under any circumstances fail."! 

57. In order of time, the grouping of theories as given in § 13 has 
in many cases to be reversed. In history, that is,[non-logico-experi- 
mental theories often come first, the logico-experimental (I^) after- 

28 c-fy^^'f THE MIND AND SOCIETY §58 

58. The subordination of facts to principles in non-logico-experi- 
V Rental theories is manifested in a number of ways: 
^ 'f i^ People are so sure of the principles with which they start that 
^ J^ C th^y ^^ ^°^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ trouble to inquire whether their implica- 
^ ^' tions are in accord with experience^ Accord there must be, and ex- 
perience as the subordinate cannot, must not, be allowed to talk back 
to its superior/ (That is the case especially when logico-experimental 
theories {la) begin to invade a domain that has been pre-empted by 
non-logico-experimental theoriesA 

2. As that invasion gains headway, progress in the experimental 
sciences finally rescues them from the servitude to which they were 
regarded as sternly subject. They are conceded a measure of auton- 
omy; they are permitted to verify the inferences drawn from tradi- 
tional principles, though people continue to assert that verification 
always corroborates the principle.(lf things seem not to turn out 
that way, igsuistry^ comes to the rescue to re-establish the desired 
accord. ) 

3. When finally that method of maintaining the sovereignty of 
the general principles also fails, the experimental sciences are resign- 
edly allowed to enjoy their hard-won independence; bu^ their do- 
main is now represented as of an inferior order envisaging the rela- 
tive and the particular, whereas philosophical principles contemplate 
the absolute, the universal.) 

59. No departure from the experimental field and therefore from 
the domain of logico-experimental theories (la) is involved in the 
resort to hypotheses, provided they are used strictly as instruments 
infthe quest for consequences that are uniformly subject to verifica- 
tion by experience, ^he departure arises when hypotheses are used as 
instruments of proof without reference to experimental verification. 
The hypothesis of gravitation, for instance, does not carry us outside 
the experimental field so long as we understand that its implications 

58 ^ For example, Zeller well notes of HeracHtus, Philosophic dcr Griechen, Vol. 
I, p. 658 (Alleyne, Vol. II, p. 95), that when that philosopher is carried to hypotheses 
which conflict with the known testimony of the senses, he concludes \Fragmenta, 
rV ?] not that his hypotheses are false, as an empiricist would do, but that the 
senses are deceptive, that reason alone gives trustworthy knowledge. 


are at all times subject to experience, as modern physics always 
assumes|^It would carry us outside the experimental field were we 
to declare gravitation an "essential property" of "mat ter" and assert 
that the orbits of the stars must of necessity comply with the New- 
tonian law.jThat distinction was not grasped by writers such as 
Comte, who tried to bar the hypothesis of a luminous ether from 
science. That h ypothesis and others of the kind are to be judged no t 
intrinsically but extrinsically, that is. by ascertaining wbpthg r and 
to what extent inferences drawn from them accord with the facts . 

60. When any considerable number of inferences from a given 
hypothesis have been verified by experience, it becomes exceedingly 
probable that a new implication will likewise be verified; so in that 
case the two types of hypotheses mentioned in §§55 and 56 are in- 
clined to blend, and in practice there is the temptation to accept the 
new inference without verifying it. That explains t he haziness presen t 
in many minds as to the distinction between hypotheses subordinate 
to experience and hypotheses dominating experience . Still, as a 
matter of practice there are cases where the implications of this or 
that hypothesis may be accepted without proof. For instance, certain 
principles of pure mechanics are being questioned nowadays, at least 
as regards velocities to any considerable degree greater than velocities 
practically observable. But it is evident that the mechanical engineer 
may continue to accept them without the slightest fear of going 
wrong, since the parts of his machines move at speeds which fall far 
short of any that would require modifications in the principles of 

61. In pure economics my hypothesis of " ophelimit y" (§ 21 10) re- 
mains experimental so long as inferences from it are held sub- 
ject to verification on the facts. Were that subordination to cease, the 
hypothesis could no longer be called experimental. Walras did not 
think of his "exchange value" in any such manner.^ If one drops the 

61 ^ Boven, Les applications mathematiques a I' economic politique, pp. 106 f.: 
"First a few definitions of Walras. Interesting his definition of 'value'': [Elements 
d'economie politique pure, p. 44.] 'Exchange value is the property possessed by 
certain things whereby they are not obtained or disposed of gratuitously, but are 
bought or sold, received or given, in certain quantitative proportions in exchange 


hypothesis of opheHmity, as is possible by observing curves of in- 
difference (§ 2408 ^) or by some other device of the kind, one is 
excused from verifying experimentally the implications of a hypothe- 
sis that is no longer there. 

62, Likewise, (the hypothesis of value remains experimental so 

long as value is thought of as something leading to inferences that 

/ are experimentally verifiable.^ I t ceases to be experimental v^ hen 

v alue is taken as a metaphysical entity presumably superior to experi- 

mental verification (§ 104).^ 

[63. [In the logicoexperimental sciences, if they are to be kept 
strictly such, so-called general principles are, as wt said above (§ 55), 
nothing but hypotheses designed to formulate syntheses of facts^ 
linking facts under theories and epitomizing them!^r rheories, thei r 
principles, their implications, are altogether subordinate to facts and _ 
possess no other criterion of truth than their capacity for picturing 
t hem.J That is an exact reversal of the relations between general prin- 
ciples and experimental facts that obtain in non-logico-experimental 
theoriesV§ 13, Class II). But the human mind has such a predilection 
for theories of that sort that^general principles have often been seert 
to recover sovereignty even over theories aspiring to status as logico- 
experimental (la)j It was agreed, that is, that principles had a quasi- ^ 

for other things.' This 'property possessed by certain things' smacks of the domain 
of physics or metaphysics. It is not the same thing as price. . . . One gets the im- 
pression that Walras finds it hard to explain just what his 'property' is. He goes 
round and round it, quahfies it, classifies it, suggests the conditions under which it 
is to be met with, how it behaves; but he never shows it except under a blurred 

62 ^ Pareto, "L'economie et la sociologie," in Scientia, Bologna, 1907, No. 2: "The 
term [value] has finished by designating some mystical, metaphysical entity or other 
that may mean anything, since it has come to mean nothing at all. William 
Stanley Jevons in his day [1882] saw that the term was giving rise to endless mis- 
understandings and proposed banishing it from science [see Theory of Political 
Economy, p. Si]. Meantime matters have grown worse, if possible; and use of the 
term 'value' may in future serve to distinguish economic treatises that are not scien- 
tific from treatises that are. [In a note:] In a volume on economics recently pub- 
lished we find that 'price is a concrete manifestation of value.' We are already famil- 
iar with the incarnations of Buddha. To them we are now asked to add the incarna- 
tions of Value. Using that sort of language we might say that a cat is a concrete 
manifestation of 'felinity,' water a concrete manifestation of the 'liquid principle.' 
But what is the liquid principle? Alas, nobody knows!" 


independent subsistence, that only one theory was true, while num - 
berless others were false, that experience could indeed determ ine 
whic h theory was true, but that, having done that much, it was 
called upon to submit to the theory. In a word( general principles, 
which were lords by divine right in non-logico-experimental theo- 
ries ](§ 16), became lords by election , but lords nevertheless, in logico- 
experimental theories (la). So we get the two subclasses distin- 
guished in § 13; but it is well to note that oftentimes their traits 
are implicit rather than explicit, that isigeneral principles are used 
without explicit declaration as to just how they are regarded.r> 

64. Steady progress in the experimental sciences eventually 
brought about the downfall of this elective sovereignty as well, and 
so led to s trictly lofflco-experimental theories (lai), i n which gen - 
eral principles are mere abstractions devised to picture factj , it being 
meantime recognized that different theories may be equally true 
(§ 53), in the sense that they picture the facts equally well and that 
choice among them is, within certain limits, arbitrary. In a word, one 
might say thac(we have reached the extreme of Nominalism^ pro- 

vided that term be stripped of its metaphysical connotations. Jj^^Xm* 

65. For the very reason that we intend to remain stric^ wittnn 
logico-experimental bounds, we are not calle^-'trpon to solve the I 

metaphysical prnhlpp nf TsJnmmaHQm -^w4^eQ];^Tr> ^ We do HOt \ 

presume to decide whether only the ifidividuum, or only the species, 
_exists, for the good reason, among others, thatfwe are not sufficiently 
clear as to the precise meaning of the term "exist.V "V^ inte nd to 
study things and hence individua , and to consider species as aggre- 
gates of more or less similar things on which we determine ourselves 
for specified purposes. Farther than that we choose not to go just 

65 ^ Familiar the language in which Boethius, translating Porphyry, states the 
problem, Isagogen Porphyrii commenta I, 10 (Vienna, p. 159; Berlin, p. 25): "Mox 
de genenbus et speciebiis, tllitd qiiidem sive subsistaut sive in solis nitdis intellecti- 
biis posita sint, sive subsisteutia corporalia sitit an incorporalia, et utriim separata a 
sensibilibiis an insensibilibus posita et circa haec consistentia, dicere rectisabo." 
("Next, as regards genera and species, I must be excused from deciding whether 
they are real or are mere conceptions of the mind, whether they are corporeal or 
incorporeal realities, and whether they are real apart from objects or are attributes 
of objects inseparable from them.") 


here, though without prejudice to anybody's privilege of going be- 
yond the point at which we stop. 

66.(The fact that we deal with individua by no means implies 
that a number of individua taken together are to be considered a 
simple sum.) They form compounds which, like chemical com- 
pounds, may have properties that are not the sum of the properties 
of their components. 

67.( Whether the principle that replaces experience or observation 
be theological, metaphysical, or pseudo-experimental may be of 
great importance from certain points of view; but it is of no im- 
portance whatever from the standpoint of the logico-experimental 
sciences) St. Augustine denies the existerjce of antipodes because 
Scripture makes no mention of them.^ (in general, the Church 
Fathers find all their criteria of truths, even of experimental truths, ^ 
in Holy Writ.) Metaphysicists make fun of them and replace the ir 
t heological principles with nrher principles just as remote from 
e xperien ce. (Scientists who came after Newton, forgetting that he ' 
had wisely halted at the dictum that celestial bodies moved as if by 
mutual attraction according to a certain law,y saw in that law an abs o- 
l ute principle , divined by human intelligence, verified by experience, 
and presumably governing all creation eternally. But the principles 
of mechanics have of late been subjected to searching criticism, and 
the conclusion has been reached that only facts and the equations , 
that picture them can stand. P oincare judiciously observes that from 
' the very fact that certain phenomena admit of a mechanical exr 
planation, they adm it also nf an indefinite number of other expl ana- 

68. (AH the natural sciences to a greater or lesser extent are ap- 
proximating the logico-experimental type (I^i). We intend to study 
'sociology in just that fashion, trying, that is, to reduce it to the same 


69. The course we elect to pursue in these volumes is therefore the 



"^ i.[We intend in no way to deal with the intrinsic "truth" of any 

67 ^ For his arguments see § 485. 



religion or faith, or of any belief, whether ethical, metaphysical, or 
otherwise, and we adopt that resolve not in any scorn for such be- 
liefs, but just because they lie beyond the limits within which we 
have chosen to confine ourselves. Relifflons, beliefs, and the like we 
consider strictly from the outside as social facts, and altogether apart 
from their intri nsic merits . The proposition that "A must^ be equal 
to 5^ in virtue of some higher superexperimental principle escapes 
our examination entirely (§ 46) ; but(we do want to know how that 
belief arose and developed and in what relationships it stands to 
other social facts. N 

2/ The field in which we move is therefore the field of experience 
and observation strictlyjWe use those terms in the meanings they 
have in the natural sciences such as astronomy, chemistry, physi- 
ology, and so on, and not to mean those other things which it is the 
fashion to designate by the terms "inner" or "Christian" experience, 
and which revive, under barely altered names, the "introspection" 
of the older metaphysicists. Such introspection we consider as a 
strictly objective fact, as a social fact, and not as otherwise concern- 
ing us. 

3.(Not intruding on the province of others, we cannot grant that 
others are to intrude on ours.^ ) We deem it inept and idiotic to set 
up experience against principles transcending experience: l^ut we 
l ikewise deny any sovereignty of such principles over experience. ^ 

69 ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap. I, § § 39-40. 

69 -Ibid., Chap. I, §§ 42-48. 

69 ^ These volumes were already in type when an article by Adrien Naville ap- 
peared in the Reuue de theologie et de philosophie, Sept.-Oct., 1915, excellently 
urging against the theories of Bergson ideas similar to those above. The conclusions 
of a thinker of Naville's distinction are well worth noting. Says he, p. 18: "As re- 
gards the theory of the two truths and the case made against science, I have come 
to the conclusion that science is limited, relative, in part conventional, that it is 
immersed in mystery, and leaves open a whole world of questions partaking of the 
nature of transcendental speculation; but that meantimeCin its own domain and in 
the fields where it pronounces judgment, there is no authority higher than its own.") 
Just previously Naville had said, p. 3: "A strange development has taken place in 
our day/ The sovereignty of science has been brought under fire,) and not by back- 
ward mmds stifled in roudne, not by partisans of ignorance and of a dogma con- 
cerned to endure for ever unchanged, but by most wide-awake, most open-minded, 
most active intelligences^Science is being called to the bar by very enlightened and 


4. We start with facts to work out theorjes, and we try at all times 
to stray from the facts as little as possible. (We do not know what the 
"essences" of things are (§§ 19, 91, 530) and we ignore them, since 
that investigation oversteps our field (§91). We are looking for the 

very daring innovators. 1 . . Not that the cult of science has entirely disappeared. 
One might even say that it has become wide-spread and that worshippers of science 
are more numerous today than fifty years ago. The masses at large are professing 
for science a reverence that seems to be on the increase [§ 2392] and their leaders 
are encouraging that attitude in them. . . . But if science has maintained all its 
prestige for those who move on the lower or middle planes of the intellectual 
world, the case is different with those who dwell on the summits. These latter have 
grown mistrustful of science — they are talking back, criticizing, drawing up an 
indictment and demanding an answer." After reviewing a number of such criti- 
cisms, Naville continues, p. 16: "M. Bergson ... is one of the severest critics that 
science has ever had. Not that he despises the thing, by any means; he vaunts its 
merits as loudly as anyone, but only on condition that science attend to its own busi- 
ness, which is, one might say, to (formulate the truth that is useful and not the 
truth that is true.j The truth that is true can be obtained only by procedures that 
are altogether different from the procedures of science." 

So by plain observation of facts and without any preconceived theories, Naville 
is led to note a particular case of a phenomenon of which we shall state the general 
theory in Chapter XII (§§ 2339 f.); and in the same way he goes on to note other 
particular cases of the same thing, p. 6: "That there are two truths [Two? There 
are an infinite number of truths: qiiot homines tot sententiae!^-{—t\\t one profound, 
philosophy, the other less profound and, in a word, less true — is a thesis that has 
frequendy turned up in the course of history.'! From the standpoint of logic and 
e xperience, this no tion of a number of different truths is a vagary without hea d_or 
tail, a hotchpotch of meaningless words; but from the standpoint of sentiments and 
the social or individual utility of sentiments (§§ 1678 f.) it expresses, be it only by 
combating one error with another, jhe discrepancy between experier f^f ^r,A the 
do ^ma that non- |ofjfp1 af*^'""" ^'•■fT'"irr fi ^clusivelv in niitw nr"i ^^""•'^i ''"^ p^''- 
nicious prejudices (§ 1679). Says Naville, pp. 7-8: "In Western Europe it [the the- 
ory or tne two truths] came to the fore with particular aggressiveness in the latter 
centuries of the Middle Ages. Its appearance marked the decline and heralded the 
demise of Scholasticism. Scholasticism had been an alliance between Church doctrine 
and philosophy . There were two Scholasticisms in Europe, the one Christian, the 
other Judaic. . . ^When Greek came to be known and acquaintance with Aristotle 
to be intimate, t he Church had to decide whether to turn her back on Greek science 
and thought or accept them as auxiliaries and allies JS ^e adopted the latter course, 
^d ^^^ allinprp was Schnlasrirism . The Jewish synagogue did likewise. . . . All 
the same, (the alliance between Church doctrine and philosophical speculation had 
not been struck on a footing of equalitv.) The Church claimed the MPP^'" hand — sh^ 
was mistress: and philosophical research, free within certain limits, was not expected 
t o overstep them. Towards the close of the Middle Ages the number of emancipated 
minds progressively increased, and then the theory of the two truths came quite 
generally to the fore in university circles, notably at Paris and at Padua." 

At that time the theory served as a bridge between the theology of sentiment and 


uniformities presented by facts,* and those uniformities we may even 
call laws (§ 99); but the facts are not subject to the laws: the laws 
are subject to the facts. Laws imply no necessity (§§29, 97). They 
are hypotheses serving to epitomize a more or less extensive number 
of facts and so serving only until superseded by better ones. 

5. Every inquiry of ours, therefore, is contingent, relative, yielding 
results that are just more or less probable, and at best very highly 
probable. The space we live in seems actually to be three-dimen- 
sional; but if someone says that the Sun and its planets are one day 
to sweep us into a space of four dimensions, we shall neither agree 
nor disagree. When experimental proofs of that assertion are brought 
to us, we shall examine them, but until they are, the problem does 
not interest us. Every proposition that we state, not excluding propo- f 
sitions in pure logic, must be understood as qualified by the restric- 
tion within the limits of the time and experience \nown to us (§ 97). 

6. We argue strictly on thiags and not on the sentiments that the 
names "of things awaken in us. Those sentiments we study as objec« 
tive facts strictly. So, for example, we refuse to consider whetherX 
an action be "just" or "unjust," "moral" or "immoral," unless the j 
things to which such terms refer have been clearly specified. We^/ 
shall, however, examine as an objective fact what people of a given 
social class, in a given country, at a given time, meant when they 
said that A was a "just" or a "moral" act. We shall see what their 
motives were, and how oftentimes the more important motives have 
done their work unbeknown to the very people who were inspired 
by them; and we shall try to dej^ermine the relationships between 
such facts and other social facts.( We shall avoid arguments involv- 
ing terms lacking in exactness (§ 486), because from inexact premises - 
only inexact conclusions can be drawn.^ But such arguments we 

the theology of reason, and its indirect consequences were favourable to experimental 
science. Today the theory is serving as a bridge between the theology of reason and 
the theology of sentiment; and it may again turn out to be to the benefit of experi-' 
mental science by demonstrating experimentally the individual and social utility of 
non-logical conduct . And see §§ 1567-79. 

69 * Pareto, Maniiale, Chap. I, §§ 4 f . 

69 ^ As always we use the terms "exact," "exactness," in the sense designated in 
§§ 108 and 119^. They are applied to terms that designate things with the closest 



shall examine as social facts; indeed^ we have in mind to solve a 
very curious problem as to how premises altogether foreign to reality 
sometimes yield inferences that come fairly close to reality] (Chapter 


7. Proofs of our propositions we seek strictly in experience and 
observation, along with the logical inferences they admit of, bar- 
ring all proof by accord of sentiments, "inner persuasion," "dictate of 

8. For that reason in particular we shall keep strictly to terms 

approximation possible. The chemist does not reject the term "water" for pure 
water — as pure, that is, as can be obtained with the means at present at our com- 
mand; but he would reject it as a designation for sea-water. The mathematician 
knows very well that there is no number that, when multiplied by itself, gives 2 — 
which is, in other words, the square root of 2; but he does not scruple to use a 
number as approximate as is required for the calculation he has in hand, say the 
number 1.414214; yet he would refuse to use the number 5 for the same computa- 
tion. Mathematicians have proceeded as though a square root of 2 (in general, an 
irrational number) existed. They have now come to recognize the necessity of using 
instead two classes of real numbers, the first containing all rational numbers with 
squares less than 2, the second, all rational numbers with squares larger than 2. The 
example is noteworthy on two accounts: 

1. It illustrates the continuous development of science, by showing how in a sci- 
ence as perfect, as exact, as mathematics improvements in the direction of greater 
perfection and exactness have still been possible. Similar improvements might be 
mentioned in mathematical series, and in many mathematical demonstrations. 

2. It is an example of successive approximation in the sense of gradual progress 
towards greater and greater exactness. The mathematicians of antiquity wisely 
avoided the risk of losing their way among such niceties, and modern mathemati- 
cians have just as wisely gone into them. The ancients were paving the way for the 
moderns; the moderns are paving the way for their successors. Hipparchus, Kepler, 
Newton, Laplace, Gauss, Poincare, represent successive approximations in celestial 
mechanics. Hegel reached the absolute in one bound; but there is this differ- 
ence between his speculations and the theories of those scientists: With Hegel's the- 
ories one could not locate a star, however indefinitely — he leaves one in the fix of 
a mathematician taking 100 as the square root of 2; whereas with scientific theo- 
ries one may determine those locations roughly and with closer and closer approxi- 
mation, being in the position of the mathematician utilizing some value such as 
1.414214 as the square root of 2. We are trying to follow in sociology the path trod- 
den before us by astronomers, physicists, chemists, geologists, botanists, zoologists, 
physiologists, in short, by all natural scientists of modern times; and to avoid, so 
far as within us lies, the road that led the Church Fathers to denying the existence 
of antipodes, and Hegel to prattling about mechanics, chemistry, and other similar 
sciences — and which is generally followed by metaphysicists, theologians, and men 
of letters in studies that they pretend deal with facts of nature but which in reality 
are a mere hotchpotch of sentiments. 


corresponding to things, using the utmost care and endeavour to 
have them as definite as possible in meaning (§ 108). 

9. We shall proceed by successive afproximations. That is to say, 
we shall first consider things as wholes, deliberately ignoring de- 
tails. Of the latter we shall then take account in successive approxi- 
mations (§54o).^„.> 

70. We in no sense mean to imply that the course we follow is 
better than others, for the reason, if for no other, that^ he term "bet- 
ter" in this case has no meaning . j No comparison is possjb le between 
theories altogether contingent and theories recognizing an abso lute. 
They are heterogeneous things and can never be brought together 
(§ 16). If someone chooses to construct a system of sociology start- 
ing with this or that theological or metaphysical principle or, fol- 
lowing a contemporary fashion, with the principles of "progressive 
democracy," we shall pick no quarrel with him, and his work we 
shall certainly not disparage.(The quarrel will not become inevitable 
until we are asked in the name of those principles to accept some 
conclusion that falls within the domain of experience and observa- 
tion.JTo go back to the case of St. Augustin e : When he assorts that 
the _Scriptures are inspired of God, we have no objection to the 
proposition, which we do not comprehend very clearly to begin with . 
But when he sets out to prove by the Scriptures that there are no 
antipodes (§ 485), we have no interest in his arguments,(since juiis- 
diction in the premises belongs to experience and observation.] 

71. We move in a narrow field, the field, namely, of experience 

69 ^ Pareto, Mantiale, Chap. I, § 14. I have given many illustrations of the method 
of successive approximations in my Cotirs and Manuale. For sociology a good ex- 
ample is available in Marie Kolabinska's La circulation des elites en France. The 
writer vi'isely centred on the main elements in her problem, disregarding the sec- 
ondary. That method is the only one that can be followed if one is to construct a 
scientific theory and steer clear of the divagations of that ethical literature which is 
sdll passed off as sociology. Many further examples of successive approximadons will 
be found in these volumes. 

70 ^ Hence also we refrain from passing any judgment on the conflict now raging 
on the matter of divine inspiration between Catholic orthodoxy and the Modernists. 
The subject lies outside the field in which we choose to remain. We must, how- 
ever, remark that the interpretation of the Modernists has really nothing to do with 
the posidve sciences. 



and observation. We do not deny that there are other fields, but in 
these volumes we elect not to enter themAOur purpose is to discover 
theories that picture facts of experience and observation ](§ 486), and 
in these volumes we refuse to go beyond that. If an yone is min ded 
to do so, if anyone craves an excursion outside the logico-expe rir. 

j mental field, he should seek other company and drop ours, for he 

I mil find us disappointing. 

C 72. We differ radically from many people following courses simi- 
lar to ours in thatAve do not deny the social utility of theories unlike 
our own) On the contrary we believe that in certain cases they may 
be very beneficial. C orrelation of the social utility of a theory with 
its experimental truth is, in fact, one of those a priori princip les 
which we reject (§14). Do the two things always go hand in hand, 
or do they not? Observation of facts alone can answer the question; 
and the pages which follow will furnish proofs that the two things 
can, in certain cases, be altogether unrelated. 

73. I ask the reader to bear in mind, accordingly, that when I call 
a doctrine absurd, in no sense whatever do I mean to imply that it 
is detrimental to society: on the contrary, it may be very beneficial. 
Conversely, when I assert that a theory is beneficial to society, in no 
wise do I mean to imply that it is experimentally true. In short, a 
idoctrine may be ridiculed on its experimental side and at the same 
ftime respected from the standpoint of its social utility. And vice 

7C in general, when I call attention to some untoward conse- 
quence of a thing A, indeed one very seriously so, in no way do I 
mean to imply that A on the whole is detrimental to society; for 
there may be good effects to overbalance the bad. Conversely, when 
I call attention to a good effect of A, great though it be, I do not at 
all imply that on the whole A is beneficial to society. 

75. The warning I have just given I had to give, for in general 
people writing on sociology for purposes of propaganda and with 
ideals to defend speak in unfavourable terms alone of things they 
consider bad on the whole, and favourably of things they consider 
good on the whole. Furthermore, since to a greater or lesser extent 


they use arguments based on accords of sentiment (§§ 41, 514), they 
are induced to manifest their own sympathies in order to win the 
sympathies of others. (They look at facts with not altogether in- 
different eves?) They love and they hate, and they disclose their loves 
a nd their hares, their likes and dislikes . Accustomed to that manner 
of doing and saying, a reader very properly concludes that if a writer 
speaks unfavourably of a thing and stresses one or another of its de- 
fects, that means that on the whole he judges it bad and is un- 
favourably disposed towards it; whereas if he speaks favourably of a^ Tj<n^ 
thing and stresses one or another of its good points, on the whole he C^ 
deems it good and is favourably disposed towards it.(That rule does 
not apply to this work^and I shall feel obliged to remind the reader 
of that fact over and over again (§311). In these volumes I am rea - 
soning objectively , analytically , according to the logico-experimental \ 
method. In n o way am I called upon to make known such senti - \ 
ments as I may happen to cherish , a nd the objective judgment I I 
pass upon one aspect of a thing in no sense implies a sim ilar judg- "'"V 
ment on the thing considered synthetically as a whole, ^ 
76. If one person would persuade another on matters pertaining 

75 -^ I am going to register just one exception at this point, and after all it is 
more apparent than real, sinjfe it aims at clearer explanation, by an example, of the 
objective fact here in point^J shall have occasion hereafter to speak unfavourably, 
very much so, of certain acts by Athenian demagogues. /Now I do not imagine the 
reader is especially concerned to know my,g]flbal personal attitude towards the ^f 
ancient Athenian republic. However, if I may be allowed to state it,(l will say that 
I do not think anyone admires or loves the Greek mind more than I do) I shal l 
poke fun at the "goddess Scign ce." ^^t the fact stands that I have devoted m v 
life to experimental science . [One may ridicule the democratic humanitarianism of 
this or that French politician and still hold the scientists of that country in highest 
esteem^and even regard the republican form of government as perhaps the best for 
France. (,One may note t he licentiousness of certain emancipated women in th e 
United State s and still cherish the deepest reverence for the many admirable wives 
and mothers who are to be found in that country.! Finally,(^ to point the finger of 
scorn at the hypocrisies of German sex-reformer s is not inconsistent with admira- 
tion for their mighty nation and reverence for German scholarship.^! deem it su- 
perfluous to note similar contrasts in the case of my own country, Italy. That is my 
whole confession. I urgently beg the reader to be convinced that this exception will 
have no counterparts. T hese volumes should be read not for something that is not | 
therg; — a statement, namely, nf my personal sentiments — but exclusively for report s / 
on objective relationships between things, between facts, and between experimental I 


to experimental science, he chiefly and, better yet, exclusively, states 
facts and logical implications of facts (§42). Butj^if he would per- 
suade another on matters pertaining to what is still called social 
science, his chief appeal is to sentiment s, with a supplement of facts 
and logical inferences from facts) And he must proceed in that 
fashion if his idea is to talk not in vain; for if he were to disregard 
sentiments, he would persuade very few and in all probability fail 
to get a hearing at all, whereas if he knows how to play deftly on 
sentiments, his reputation for eloquence will soar (§ 514).^ 

77. Political economy has hitherto been a practical discipline de- 
signed to influence human conduct in one direction or another. It 
could hardly be expected, therefore, to avoid addressing sentiment, 
and in fact it has not done so. All along economists have given us 
systems of ethics supplemented in varying degree with narrations of 
facts and elaborations of the logical implications of facts. That is 
Istrikingly apparent in the writings of Bastiat; but it is apparent 
enough in. virtually all writings on economics, not excluding works 
Jbf the historical school, which are oftentimes more metaphysical and 
/sentimental than the rest. As mere, examples of forecasts based on 
/ the scientific laws of political economy and sociology (to the ex- 
j elusion of sentiment), I offer the following. The first volume of my 
/ Cours appeared in the year 1896, but had been written in 1895, with 
/ statistical tables coming down not later than the year 1894. 
J I. Contrarily to the views of ethical sociologists, whether of the 
', historical school or otherwise, and of sentimental anti-Malthusians, 
at that time I wrote with reference to population increase : "We are 
therefore witnessing rates of increase in our day that cannot have 
obtained in times past and cannot continue to hold in the future." ^ 
And I mentioned in that connexion the examples of England and 
Germany. As for England, there were already signs of a slackening. 
Not so for Germany, where there were as yet no grounds, em- 

76 ^ This topic is touched upon just incidentally here. It belongs to our study of 
the objective aspect of theories (§ 13) and will be amply developed in due course. 

77 ^ Cours, § 198. 


pirically, for arriving at any conclusions whatever. But now both 
countries show a decHning curve.^ 

2. With specific reference to England, after determining the law 
of population increase for the years 1801-91, I concluded that popu- 

77 -Ibid., § 196: "It is therefore quite evident that the population of the three 
countries considered cannot continue to increase indefinitely at the present 
rate." The three countries were Norway, England-Wales, and Germany. As regards 
Norway, the annual rate of geometric increase, which was 13.9 per cent for the 
period 1861-80, fell to 5.7 per cent for the period 1905-10. For England-Wales and 
Germany the figures are as follows: 


YEARS England-Wales Germany 

1880-85 II. I 7.1 

1885-90 13.4 10.7 

1890-95 11.5 11.3 

1895-1900 II. 5 15-2 

1900-05 10.6 14.7 

1905-10 10.4 13.7 

"It is evident that after reaching a maximum in the years 1 895-1900, the rate of 
population increase in Germany is now [1910] on a descending curve. The falling- 
ofT in rate is more clearly apparent still from the annual statistics of births per thou- 


YEARS Norway England-Wales Germany 

1875 31-2 354 40.6 

1885 31.3 32-9 37-0 

1895 30-5 30.3 36-1 

1900 29.9 28.7 35.6 

1905 27.4 27.3 33.0 

1910 26.1 25.1 3 1. 1 (for 1909) 

"The falling-off in the rate of population increase in Germany is especially notable 
in the large cities, where wealth has appreciably increased: 


Munich 35-i 21.9 

Leipzig 31-5 22.1 

Dresden 31.5 20.3 

Cologne 37-8 26.7 

Magdeburg 29.2 22.8 

Stettin 35-3 22.7 

Danzig 34-7 -7-6" 

That substantiates what I wrote in my Cows, § 198: "It is therefore evident that 
forces limiting increment in population must have interfered widi the genetic tend- 
ency in times past, or will do so in the future." 


lation could not continue to increase at the same rate. And the rate 
has in fact fallen.^ 

3. ("The gains made by certain Socialistic ideas in England are 
probably the result of an increment in the economic obstacles to 

^ population increase.'T The soundness of that conclusion is even 
more apparent now. Socialism has progressed in England, while a 
falling-off has been observable in the other countries in Europe. 

4. In Chapter XII we shall see a verification of a sociological law 
that I used in my Systemes socialistes. 

5. The second volume of my Cours was published In 1897. At that 

77 ^Ibid., § 211 ^. If P is the population in the year /, reckoning from the year 

1801, we get: , ,, ^ ^ ■ ^ 

log P =z 6.96324 -)- 0.005637/. 

That yields the theoretical law of population for the years 1801-91. The following 
figures are given in my Coins: 

POPULATION (in millions) 

YEARS Real Estimated Difference 

1801 8.892 9.188 +0.296 

1811 10.164 10.294 -j- 0.130 

1821 12.000 11.912 — 0.088 

1831 13-897 13-563 — 0.334 

1841 15-914 15-443 —0.471 

1851 17.928 17.583 —0.345 

1861 20.066 20.020 — 0.046 

1871 22.712 22.795 + 0.083 

1881 25.975 25.953 — 0.022 

1891 29.001 29.551 -{-0.550 

The greatest difference, in other words the maximum error, arising in the appli- 
cation of the formula is 0.550. Using the formula to estimate population for the 
year 1910, we get 37.816, while the actual population was 35.796. The difference is 
-|- 2.020, a figure much greater than the maximum error. That proves that popula- 
tion is no longer following the law observable for the years 1801-91, and that it is 
increasing at a slower rate. 

77 ^ Ibid., § 211 ^. The remark has to be taken in connexion with matter preced- 
ing, §§ 179-80: "Movements in the transformation of personal capital are in part de- 
pendent on the economic movement. It must not be forgotten that we have not 
shown their explicit dependence on the economic situation, but merely their de- 
pendence on variations in it [In a note:] If the economic situation is characterized 
by a function F of any number of variables that are functions of the time /, then 
we have shown that the numbers of marriages, births, and to a certain extent also 

deaths, are a function of——; but we have not shown that such numbers are explicit 

functions of F." 


§ 8o FACTS 43 

time it was an article of faith with many people that social evolution 
was in the direction of the rich growing richer and the poor, poorer. 
Contrarily to that sentimental view, the law of distribution of in- 
come led to the proposition ^ that "if total income increases with 
respect to population, there must be either an increase in the mini- 
mum income, or a decrease in inequality in incomes, or the two 
things must result simultaneously." Between 1897 ^^^ ^9^^ there 
was an increase in total income as compared with population, and 
what in fact resulted was an increase in minimum income and a 
decrease in inequality in incomes.^ A counter-proof, furthermore, is 
available in the fact that my Cours is defective in those sections into 
which sentiment was allowed to intrude.^ 

78.f A person often accepts a proposition for no other reason than 
that It accords with his sentiments.N Such accord, indeed, usually 
makes a proposition more "obvious. And from the standpoint of 
social utility in many cases it is perhaps well that that be so( But 
from the standpoint of experimental science, such accord has little 
value and often none whatever )Of that I shall give many examples. 

79.( Since I intend in these volumes to take my stand strictly with- 
in the field of experimental science, I shall try to avoid any appeal 
to the reader's sentiments whatsoever and keep to facts and impli- 
cations of facts.'^ 

80.(When a writer is "doing literature" or addressing sentiments 
in any way at all , he finds it necessary, in deference to them, to 
choose between the facts he nses ^ Not all of them rise to the dignity 
of rhetorical or historical propriety. There is an aristocracy of facts 
reference to which is always commendable. There is a commonalty 
of facts reference to which incurs neither praise nor blame. There 
is a proletariat of facts reference to which is at all times improper 

77 5 Ibid., § 965. 

77 ^ A definition of "decrease in inequality in incomes" is given in Ibid., § 965 ^. 
See also my Manuel, pp. 389 f., and Sensini, La teoria della rendita, pp. 342-53, and 
especially p. 350, § 185.* 

77 '^ A criticism of the passages may be found in the introduction to my Manttale, 
where the various errors are duly noted. 

79 ^ That is why there will be so many notes with quotations. Their design is 
to keep the body of facts vividly present before the reader's mind. 


and reprehensible/ So amateur entomologists may find it pleasant to 
catch bright-coloured butterflies, just routine to catch flies and 
wasps, loathsome to lay hand to dung- and carrion-beetles. But the 
naturalist knows no such distinctions, nor do they arise for us in the 
field of social science )(§§ 85, 896). 

Csi. We keep open house to all facts , whatever their chara cter. 
provided that directly or indirectly they point the way to discoverin g 
a uniformity. Even an absurd, an idiotic argument is a fact, and if 
accepted by any large number of people, a fact of great importance 
to sociology. (Beliefs, whatever their character, are also facts, and 
their importance depends not on their intrinsic merits, but on the 

/ greater or fewer numbers of individuals who profess them. JThey 
serve furthermore to reveal the sentiments of such individuals, and 
sentiments are among the most important elements with which 
sociology is called upon to deal (§ 69-6).^^^^ 

82. The reader must bear that in mind, as he encounters in these 
volumes facts which at first blush might seem insignificant or 
childish{ Tales, legends, the fancies of magic or theology, may often 
be accounted idle and ridiculous things — and such they are, in- 
trinsically; but then again they may be very helpful as tools for 
discovering the thoughts and feelings of men. po the psychiatrist 
studies the ravings of the lunatic not for their intrinsic worth but for 
their value as symptoms of disease. 

83. The road that is to lead us to the uniformities we seek may 
at times seem a long one. If that is the case, it is simply because I 
have not succeeded in finding a shorter. If someone manages to do 
so, all the better; I will straightway leave my road for his. Mean- 
time I deem it the wiser part to push on along the only trail as yet 

84.(lf one's aim is to inspire or re-enforce certain sentiments in 
men, one must present facts favourable to that design and keep un- 
favourable data quiet.Jput if one is interested strictly in uniformities, 
one must not ignore any fact that may in any way serve to dis- 
close them.) And since my aim in these volumes is no other, J refus e 



out of hand to consider in a fact anything but its logic( k£xperi- 
mental significance. 

85. The one concession that I can make — and really it is not so 
much a concession as a grasp at some method for securing a far 
greater clearness by removing from the reader's eyes any veil that 
sentiment may have drawn across them — is to choose from the 
multitude of facts such as, in my judgment, vyill exert least in- 
fluence upofn sentiment s. So u^hen T have facts of equal experimental 
value before me from the past and from the present^ I choose facts 
of the past . That accounts for my many quotations from Greek and 
Latin winters, (in the same way, when I have facts of equal experi- 
mental value from religions now extinct and religions still extant, 
I give my preference to the former.)But to prefer a thing is not to use 
it exclusively. ^In many many cases I am constrained to use facts 
from the present or from religions still existing, sometimes because 
I have no other facts of an equivalent experimental value, sometimes 
in order to show the continuity of certain phenomena from past to 
present. In such connexions I intend to write with absolute freedom ; 
and (the same frankness I maintain against the malevolence of our 
modern Paladins of Purity, for whom I care not the proverbial fig.^) 

86. In propounding this or that theory an author as a rule wants 
other people to assent to it and adopt it — in him the seeker after 
experimental truth and the apostle stand combined. In these volumes 
I keep those attitudes strictly separate , retaining the first and barring 
the second. I^have said, and I repeat^ that my sole interest is the. 
qu est for social uniformiti es, social laws . I am here reporting on the 
results of my quest, since I hold that in view of the restricted num- 
ber of readers such a study can have and in view of the scientific 
training that may be taken for granted in them, such a report can 
do no harm. I should refrain from doing so if I could reasonably 
imagine that these volumes were to be at all generally read (§§ 14, 

85 ^ See in this connexion, Pareto, Le mythe vertuiste. 

86 ^ Running, as it does, counter to the general trend in the social sciences, thus 
work will be severely criticized by all individuals whose minds are closed to inno- 
vations from a habit of drifting with that ciu-rent. They state the problem of judg- 


87. Long ago in my Maniude, Chap. I, § i, I wrote: "It is pos- 
sible for an author to aim exclusively at huntin g ou^J^n d running 
down uniform itjes_ among fact s — th^eirjaws, in other words— With- 
out having any purpose of direct practical utility in mind, any in- 
tention of offering remedies and precepts, any ambition, even, to 
\ promote the happiness and welfare of mankind in general or of any 
\ part of mankind. \His purpose in such a case is strictly scientific: he 
I wants to learn, to \now, and nothing more. I warn the reader that 
* in this Manual I am trying exclusively to realize this last purpose 
only. Not that I und'errate the others fl am just drawing distinctions 
between methods, separating them and indicating the one that is 
to be followed in this book.\[Anyone differently minded can find 
plenty of books to his liking) He should feast on them and leave this 
one alone, for, as Boccaccio said of his tales {Decameron, X, Co7i- 
clusione], it does not go begging a hearing of anybody." 

Such a declaration seems to me clear enough, and I confess that 
I could not express myself in plainer terms^Yet I have been credited 
with intentions of reforming the world, and even been compared 
to Fourier! M 

ing a theory in the terms: "Is it in accord with the theories I consider good?" If 
the answer is yes, they classify it with the good theories, if no, with the bad. It is 
obvious enough that being at variance with all such theories, this one of mine will 
certainly be bad. It may find a warmer welcome among young people whose minds 
are not yet clogged with the preconceptions of orthodox science and among people 
who state the problem of judging a theory in the terms: "Is it in accord with the 
facts?" I must have made it sufficiently clear by this time that that is the only 
accord I seek, and that I have no interest whatsoever in anything else. 

87 ^ In the year 1909 and with the Manmile, which had appeared in 1906, before 
his eyes. Professor Gide, Histoire des doctrines economiques, p. 623, was able to 
write: "The Hedonists [Among whom Gide counts V. Pareto — on what grounds, 
he only knows] are very reticent as regards the possibilides of realizing their eco- 
nomic world. On the other hand they are very positive, in fact a litde too much so, 
as regards the virtues of their method, not being exempt on that score from a dog- 
matic conceit that reminds one of the Utopian Socialists. One seems to be listening 
to Fourier when one reads that 'what has already been discovered in political 
economy is nothing as compared with what may be discovered hereafter' — by the 
mathematical method, of course." Gide ascribes his quotation to one "V. Pareto, 
["Le niiove teorie economiche"], Giornale degli economisti, September, 1901." Even 
if the quotation were exact, M. Gide might at least have noted that V. Pareto had 
changed his views, as is apparent enough from his Manuale. But it is not exact, for 
M. Gide is thinking of practice, whereas I was thinking stricdy of pure theory! A 



88. In general^ this method of studying the social sciences is not 
grasped by literary economists, the cast of their minds being against 
any such thing. )Then again they often discuss books and other 
writings that they know only at second hand, and which they have 
never read, or never read with the care required for understanding 
them. Finally, the person who has always had some practical pur- 
pose in view can hardly be convinced that anyone can have a purely 
scientific aim; or if he does understand it for a moment, he imme- 
diately forgets .(l have therefore little hope that the cautions I have 
voiced in this chapter will effectually prevent theories which I do 
not hold from being ascribed to me,Jsimilar warnings having failed 
on past occasions, though endlessly repeated. Yet it seems best to 
me to follow the maxim " Do what you ought, follow what may. " 
Only I must beg my reader's pardon for certain repetitions that 
have no other justification, and which may appear superfluous — as 
they in fact are for anyone consenting to read what I say with 
moderate attention. 

good guess would be that M. Gide had not read the article from which he quoted. 
My article says, p. 239: ". . . Now the outstanding trait in the new economic 
theories is that they are the only ones so far to have given us a general picture of 
the economic phenomenon as a whole. The picture is just approximative, much like 
a sphere offered as a model of the Earth. All the same we know of nothing better." 
On p. 241, as to "the equations of pure economics," I clearly state that they are of 
service only as instruments for study, much as it is of service to know, for instance, 
the dimensions of the terrestrial ellipsoid. On p. 242: "Pure economics, one may 
say, has indeed found the tool for its researches, but it has hardly begun to use it. 
Practically everything along that line is still to be done; and economists really 
devoted to the progress of their science ought to set about doing it." I was speaking 
of science, pure science, and not of practical applications, as Gide's allusion to 
Fourier would insinuate. I conclude, p. 252, with the quotation that Gide detached 
from its context — with a remodelling to boot: "We are in the first stages of the 
new science, and what it has already achieved is nothing as compared with the 
results it may achieve hereafter. The present state of pure economics is not even 
comparable to the state of astronomy after the appearance of Newton's Principia." 
The parallel I drew was with an abstract science, astronomy, not with a concrete 
science. In the rest of his article Professor Gide continues to ascribe to me opinions 
and theories that I have never held and which I have even disputed as directly 
opposite to theories actually mine. For further details see my article, Economic 
mathematique, in the Encyclopedic des sciences mathematiques [Meyer, Vol. I, 
pp. 1094-1120, /. V. Anwendungen der Mathematik^ attf Nationalokpnomie; Molk, 
Vol. I, pp. 591-640] and in Giornale degli economisti, Nov., 1906, p. 424. 


89, This is not the place to add further details touching my man- 
ner of regarding economic theories/ The reader will find excellent 
and ample expatiations on that point in the works of Sensini and 
Boven already referred to. 

"^J^.VNt saw (§§13, 63) that our subclass of logico-experimental 
theories (I^) was divisible into two varieties, in one of which general 
principles were mere abstractions from experimental facts, while in 
the other they aspired more or less explicitly to an existence of their 
own not strictly dependent on mere abstraction from facts.j The two 
varieties are often distinguished as based on the inductive or the 
deductive method s. But that is not exact. jThey differ not in the 
method they use, but in their respective criteria of truth for proposi- 
tions and theories pln the strict type, I gi, whether propositions are 
obtained by induction or by deduction or by a mixture of the two, 
theyare^ways subordinate to experience; whereas in the deviation 
from the type, \a2, they tend explicitly to dominate experience ^When 
a general principle is corroborated by facts in large numbers as, for 
instance, the principles of Euclidean geometry or of universal gravi- 
tation are, the two varieties are not very sharply distinguished, for 
after all the experimental verification may often be taken for granted J^ 
r91. But if the gap between the two varieties is very marked, a 
difference appears that is the better seen in a comparison between 

( theories which are logico-experimental {\d) and theories which are 
notj T n the former procedure is gradu al. One__s tarts with fa cts and 
r eaches this nr that abstraction, t hence going on to a more generaL 
abstraction, becoming more and more circumspect , more and more 
cautious, the farther one gets from direct experienc e^ In non-logico- 
experimental theories, a deliberate leap is taken away from direct 
experience, as broad a leap as possible, and the farther one gets from 
direct experience, the greater the assurance, the greater the reckless- 

89 ^ An altogether estimable person once asked whether my science were "demo- 
cratic"! It has been said, in black and white, that it was "socialistic"; and then again 
that it was "reactionary." The science interested strictly in uniformities (laws) 
among facts is nothing of any of those sorts and can in no way be so labelled. 
It is just a quest for uniformities, and that is the end of it. Personally, I was a 
free-trader in my Cours; but in my Maniiale I dropped that cloak, and I remain 
divested of it when dealing with science. 



ness.j One is bent on k nowing the "essences" of things. tb£_aiilyJdnd 
of knowledge worthy of the name of "science^ " direct experience 
and its impHcations being mere "empiricism," and as such held in 
poor esteem (§530). \. 

92. Working out a chemistry, for example, on that system, the 
first problem would be to know what "matter" is. Knowing that, we 
should know its chemical propertiesJ[The modern chemist, instead, 
following the methods and procedures of logico-experimental 
science, studies chemical properties directly, and gets more and 
more general properties or abstractions from them.'j 

The ancients thought that in imagining cosmogonies they were 
studying a stronom v| Modern scientists study the movements of the 
stars directly, and go no farther than required for establishing uni- 
formities in such movements. ) Newton found that ascertain 
hypothesis, the so-called hypothesis of universal gravitati on, was all 
t hat was required for discovering the equations governing t he move- 
ments of the stars /But what is gravitation? Neither he nor his suc- 
cessors in celestial mechanics took the trouble to go too deeply into 
that question.j Not that the problem was not worth considering; 
buc(celestial mechanics can dispense with a solution of it.^So long 
as its equations hold, it matters little how they are obtained. 

Y 93. (Errors that are ancient history for the more advanced sciences 
recur or have their modern counterparts in the more backward 
sciences^ So the theo ry r>f pvohirinn has in some cases played a role 
in sociology similar to the role once played by cosmogony in astr on- 
omy .( It was generally held that the only way to determine uni- 
formities in social phenomena was to know the history of the latter 
and trace them back to their origins )(§§ 23, 346)."^ 

94. for the theories that are to be elaborated in these volumes we 
cannot avoid going back to a distinc tion betyyeen the objective and 
the subjective phen omenon. However, we do not need to go beyond 
that and solve the problem as to the "reali ty of the external world ." 
assuming (but not granting) that that problem has some exact 
meaning (§ 149). ^ 

V 95, Solve it as you will, the two great categories mentioned still 


Stand, even if under different names. It may well be that a sheet of 
paper with engravings on it and a genuine bank-note of the Bank 
of England are both mere thoughts of the mind ; but if you dine at a 
London restaurant and try to pay your bill with the first of those 
thoughts, you will soon notice that just as " one thou ght is oJLan- 
other born. " that thought will present you with a whole litter of 
offspring: first the thought of a policeman, whic h, whether ob- 
j ectively real or not^ will hale you before the rhniight of ^aLJudge, 
which will introduce you to the thought of a well-barred jail , wjh^re 
you will meet a thought that the English call "hard labour." and 
which, acc ording <•" ^11 reports, is not the pleasantest thought in the 
Viiorld. All that will convince you that |he two sheets of paper cer- 
tainly belong to two sharply distinguished categories, since they 
give rise to differing facts — or differing thoughts, if you preferJQ 

Similarly, when we assert that to know the properties of sulphuric 
anhydride one must appeal to experience and not, as Hegelian meta- 
physics would have it, to the "concept" of sulphur or even of oxygen, 
we are not in the least intending to set an external world over against 
an internal world, an objective reality over against a subjective 
reality. We can state the same proposition in a jargon that recog- 
nizes the "existence" of nothing but thought. We can say, that is, 
that to get the concept of sulphuric anhydride, it is not enough to 
have the mere concepts of sulphur and oxygen and meditate upon 
them. We could do that for century on century without getting con- 
cepts of sulphuric anhydride that would gibe with the con- 
cepts supplied by chemical experiment. The ancient philosophers 
thought that they could replace observation and experience in just 
that way, but they were entirely wrong. I Chemistry is learned in 
laboratories and not by philosophical meditations, even of the 
Hegelian brand !(§ 14). (To get the concept, or concepts, of sulphuric 
anhydride we must first have the many concepts acquired through 
the concept otherwise known as experience-Vburning sulphur in 
oxygen or in air, and collecting the concept of sulphuric anhydride 
in the concept of a glass container — finally bringing all such con- 
cepts together to get the concept of the properties of sulphuric an- 


hydride. But such a jargon would be proUx, tedious, ridiculous; and 
just to avoid it we use the terms "subjective" and "objective." For 
the logico-experimental purposes we have in view no other terms are 

96^ In the same way and for the same reason it is enough for us to 
know that social facts reveal certain uniformities which are con- 
nected by ties of interdependence.^ M[£_aj: g not called upon t o go to 
the trouble of finding out whether and just how that result yielded 
by observation can be reconciled wi t h what is railed free will (if 
indeed the latter phrase has any meaning). i^uch problems transcend 
the limits of our investigations^ 

97. ^nd we shall also neglect to inquire whether scientific laws 
have the trait of "necessity"y(§ 528). On that point observation and 
experience can tell us nothing. They can only reveal certain uni- 
formities, and those only within the limits of the time and space to 
which our observation and experience extend. Every scientific law, 
therefore, is subject to that qualification ; and if, for considerations of 
brevity, it is omitted, tjie statement of every scienrifir law must 
nevertheless be taken as prefaced by the restriction : within the lim its 
o f time and space known to us (§ 69-5). 

(In like manner we hold aloof from debates as to the necessity of 
the conclusion in a syllogism^VThe syllogism of the text-books on 
logic, for example, "All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; there- 
fore Socrates is mortal," from the experimental standpoint must be 
stated thus: "All men of whom we have had any knowledge have 
died; what we know of Socrates induces us to classify him with such 
men; therefore it is very probable that Socrates is mortal." 

That probability is greatly enhanced by other circumstances which 
we shall specify farther along (§§531, 556); and it is therefore 
greater, enormously greater, than the plausibility of a syllogism that 
might have been drawn before the discovery of Australia: "All the 
swans we have ever known have been white; a bird of unknown 

96 ^ ["Interdependence" is a technical term with Pareto — see our Index. The 
same concept is expressed in English by the words "correlation," "interrelation." 
—A. L.] 


colour that has all the characteristics of the swan must be classed 
with the swans; therefore that bird will probably be white" (§ 526). 
People reasoning on essences may sometimes substitute certitude f or 
p robability, even very great probabili ty. B ut we know nothing ab out 
essences and accordingly lose our certitude . 

98. To assert, as some assert, that a miracle is impossible as vio- 
lating the recognized constancy of natural laws is to reason in a 
circle and offer an assertion as proof of itself.^If ^ miracle could be 

, proved, the constancy of natural laws would at once go by the 

f'iboard.j The kernel of the question therefore lies strictly inj he prooL 
of fact . WejnigliLadd that such a proof has to withstand a scrutiny 
all the more severe, the farther it carries us outside the circle of 
known facts.(lf someone were to assert that the Sun is one day to 
carry its planetary system to a locality where the laws of chemistry, 
physics, and mechanics are different from the laws at present known, 
we could make no objectionN We could only remind the p rophet that 
t he burden of proof rests upon the person making the as sertion.. As 
we have already stated (§ 29), we admit of no exceptions to this rule, 

_even for the laws of logic. 

1 99. (Scientific laws are for us, therefore, nothing more than experi- 
rnental uniformities (§69-4). From that point of view there is not 
the slightest difference between the laws of political economy or 
sociology and the laws of other sciences.\The differences that do 
exist are of an entirely different character, lying chiefly in the greater 
or lesser complexity with which effects of the various laws are inter- 
twined (§ 1792). Celestial mechanics has the good fortune to be able 
to deal with the effects of a single law (uniformity). And that is not 
all, for the effects might be such as seriously to interfere with the 
discovery of the uniformity they manifest. But by a most happy 
circumstance, the mass of the Sun is much greater than the masses 
of the various planets, so that the uniformity is disclosed under a 
simple though not strictly exact form by assuming that the planets 
move around a fixed Sun; whence we can go on to rectify the error 
involved in the first approximation.^ Chemistry, physics, mechanics, 

99 ^ We shall see something remotely similar in the case of sociology (Chapter 


are likewise able to deal with separate laws, or at least, by one 
device or another, t o_ isolate effect s ; 7 but then again, there are 
cases where fbe complex is har d to unravel. Such cases grow 
more numerous in biology and geology, and most of all in 
meteorology. It is with these latter that the s ocial sciences are to b e 
classed in this respec t. > 
L_^ 100/Another difference in scientific laws lies in the possibility or 
impossibility of isolating their effects by experiment, which is here 
to be distinguished from observation.jCertain sciences, such as chem- 
istry, physics, mechanics, and biology, can and do make extensive 
use of experiment. Certain others can use it but sparingly; others, 
such as the social sciences, little if any; still others not at all, as for 
instance, celestial mechanics — at least as regards the movements of 
the heavenly bodies.^^ 

PlOl. E conomic and social laws as well as the laws of the other 
sciences never suffer any genuine exception .^(To speak of a uni- 
formity that is not uniform is to say a thing which has no meaning^ 
What is commonly called an exception to a law is really the super- 
position of the effect of another law upon its own normal effects. 
From that standpoint all scientific laws, even the laws of mathe- 
matics, suffer exceptions. All bodies on the surface of the earth 
tend to move toward the centre; but a feather caught by the wind 
moves away from the centre, and a balloon filled with hydrogen 
rises in the air. The chief difficulty in a great many sciences lies in 
finding ways to unravel tangles of many different upifnrfrijf-ifs.N 

102. To that end,(it often helps to consider not the individual phe- 
nomena actually observed but average situations where the effects of 
certain laws are attenuated and those of others are emphasized. We 
cannot predict, for example, what the temperature on the tentn of 
June in some future year is going to be ; but we can come pretty close 
to the mean temperature for the month of June, and closer still to 

99 ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap. I, § 20. 

loi ^ Pareto, Manuale, Chap, i, § 7. There are still professors of political economy 
who keep repeating parrot-like that economic laws have exceptions, while physical 
laws do not. Such "the ignorance that tormenteth them"! Not even with a spyglass 
could one find a physicist to class among unexceptionable physical laws the law that 
bodies diminish in volume as they cool. 


the mean temperature over a three months' period for a number of 
years. No one can tell whether John Doe will live or die next year; 
but we can tell, approximately, how many people out of a hundred 
thousand of John Doe's age will die. Who can tell whether a given 
grain of wheat sown by a farmer will sprout and yield a return ? But 
we can predict with reasonable probability the crop an acre of wheat 
will yield, and even better the average yield over a specified period 
of years. 

103. CWe must not forget that such averages are largely arbitrary, 
that they are formulated by ourselves for purposes of our own, and 
that therefore we must avoid the error of thinking of them as ob- 
jective things having an existence independent of the facts.j|'One 
often finds them going about under different names as metaphysical 
entities, used by scholars to fix on something at least that is constant 
in the flux of fact. 

Lj.04. In political economy, for instance, we find that the whole- 
sale prices of commodities differ in almost every transaction.CTo get 
a theory we have to have something less variable, something more 
constant, than that!) Scientifically we consider averages, we strikc, 
medium curves (interpolation s).^ Metaphysically, people have used 
an entity called value taken as a constant cause of variations in price. 
This second manner of reasoning easily leads astray, since it deprives 
averages of the status they have scientifically and gives them another 
that is altogether imaginary (§62). This statement, however, implies 
no criticism of early economists for using the term "value." But it 
was a notable step in advance when "exchange value" came to be 
distinguished from "utility value." Further progress derived the far 
more exact concept of "final utility" from the concept of "utility 
value"; and going on in that fashion, general theories of the eco- 
nomic equilibrium were finally attained. There is nothing unusual 
about such a course. It is the course the natural sciences have all fol- 
lowed (§§69^ 106). But just as it is no longer possible in our day 
t r> <;i-nrly celestial mechanics with the tools of Ptolemy or _ g.venjTf_ 

104 ^ One of the many forms of the method of successive approximations (§§ 6g- 
9, 540). 



Kpplfr, «;n pn|JtiVn1 emnnrp y can no lo nger he fianr]]^.^ yyjt^ ^"^^ 
indeterminate concept of value. ^ . ' ' 

105. In a first approximation we may be satisfied with knowing 
that, roughly, we have discarded certain effects of minor importance 
as compared with others of major importance. But(,it is wiser to get 
at the earliest possible moment a fairly exact picture of what the 
terms "minor" and "major" imply,*) and to know approximately 
what has been discarded and what has been kept. It will be all the 
better to determine, if we can, the limits of the variations between 
t he situation as it really is — the facts — and the picture which our 
a verages or theories give us of ir . In mathematics, it is already some- 
thing to know that the fraction 22/7 expresses the approximate rela- 
tionship of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. It is better 
yet to know that the actual ratio is greater than 22/7; still better to 
know that the error is less than 0.015, or that the true ratio lies be- 
tween the fractions 22/7 and 333/io6.Ut is a good thing to know that 
prices are not numbers varying haphazard. It is better yet to know 
that there is some relation between them and the tastes of human be- 
ings and the difficulties lying in the way of obtaining commodities.} 
It is even better to have some notion of what that relation is, and 
better still to have the concept more exact and know the relative 
importance of the situation pictured by the theory, as compared 
with the real situation, and to know just what aspects it ignores. 
LIO6. A concrete situation cannot be know n in all it s det aik: there 
is always a remainder, which is even physically apparent at times.^ 
"^e can have only approximate concepts of concrete phenomena . ^ 
theory therefore can never account for all particulars .(Divergences 
are inevitable, and the best we can do is reduce them to a minimum. ) 
And in this connexion too we are once more carried back to our 
/successive approximations! Science is a continuous development; that 
is to say, every theory is supplanted by another which corresponds 

104 - Pareto, Maniiale, Chap. Ill, §§ 29-30, 35. 

106 ^ Pareto, Manuel, p. 10. To humour the Hegelians we might say: "It has been 
observable that the concept of a thing which people have at a given moment is 
supplemented, as time goes by, with new concepts, and the series of additions, so 
far as we can tell, must be infinite." 


more closely to the real facts. The theory of yesterday has been per- 
fected today; the theory of today will be improved on tomorrow; 
that of tomorrow, on the following day; and so on. Such the story 
that is to be read on every page of the history of the sciences, and 
no one can suppose that it will not continue to be the story for a 
long long time to come. S ince no theory absolutely commands ac- 
ceptance, of the theories among whic h we aje free to select we sha ll 
prefer the one that diverges least from facts of the past, wh ich best 
enabl es us to foresee the facts of the future, and which, in additio n, 
embrac es the greatest number of facts . 7 

107.(ln astronomy the theory of epicycles,] which some people are 
at present trying to rehabilitate on sentimental grounds, satisfies the 
requirement of adequately picturing facts of the past as such facts 
are known to us.\By multiplying the number of epicycles as often as 
is required, every movement of the stars that observation reveals 
can be represented ; but we cannot, or cannot so well, foresee future 
movements, as is possible with the theory of gravitation) The latter 
theory, furthermore, utilizing the general law of mechanics, em- 
braces a greater number of facts. Hence it is certainly to be preferred, 
as in fact is customary, to the theory of epicycles. But the choice is 
made for those reasons, or for others of the kind, not for meta- 
physical considerations as to the "essence" of things. 
TT08. T he facts among which we live have their influence up oiLiis^ 
and as a result our minds acquire certain attitudes which must not be 
too violently in conflict with those fact j. Such attitudes go on to 
give form and manner to language( Some small amount of informa- 
tion as to external facts we can derive, therefore, from knowledge 
of the processes of the human mind and from language) But that 
small amount is small indeed, and once a science is at all advanced, 
more errors than truths are obtained in that fashion (§§ 113 f.).^ 

108 ^ That influence — nothing very definite, to tell the truth — of the facts upon 
our minds makes up such truth, experimentally speaking, as there is in theories 
ascribing a scientific status to intuition. I ntuition serves about as much tov yards 
knowledge of reality as a poor, sometimes a very poor, photograph of a place serv es 
t owards knowledge of that place . S ometimes intuition supplies just a fanciful 
i llusion, and not even a poor photograph, of reality. 


(The terms of common speech are lacking in definiteness, and it 
cannot be otherwise, for precision goes only with scientific exacti- 
tude^ Every argument based on sentiment, as all metaphysical argu- 
ments are, must of necessity use terms lacking in exactness, since 
sentiments are indefinite and the name cannot be more definite than 
t he thing. (Siirh arguments, besides, actually rely on the lack of 
exactness in everyday language to mask their defects in logic and 
carry conviction i (§ 109). (Logico-experimental arguments, being 
based instead on objective observation, tend to use words strictly to 
designate things and therefore to choose them in such a way as to 
avoid ambiguities and have terms as exact as possible.) Moreover, 
they eventually equ ip themse lves with a special technical l anguage 
and so escape the indefiniteness of common parlance. 

As already noted (§ 69-8), our purpose being to use logico-experi- 
mental reasoning exclusively, hve shall exert every endeavour to use 
only words that are as far as possible precise and strictly defined, )and 
which correspond to things unequivocally and without ambiguities 
(§ 119), or better, with a minimum of error. 

A word designates a concept, and the concept may or may not 
correspond to a thing . But the correspondence, when it is there , 
c annot be perfect .^ Even if the word corresponds to a thing, it can 
never correspond to it exactly, in an absolute manner.) lt is always a 
question of a more or a less. Not only are there no such things, in the 
concrete, as geometric entities such as the straight line, the circle, and 
so on, but not even chemical substances that are absolutely pure, 
not even the species with which zoologists and botanists deal, not 
even an individual body designated by a name — for it would be 
further necessary to specify at just what moment it is considered : a 
, piece of iron does not remain identical with itself if it is subject to 
changes in temperature, in electrical tension, and so on. In a word, 
the "absolute" has no place in logico-experimental science, and we 
must always take in a relative sense propositions that in die dress of 
ordinary parlance seem absolute ; and in the same way too, wt must 
make quantitative distinctions where common speech stops at the 
qualitative (§144^). That much being clearly grasped, any mis- 


understanding is impossible; whereas to express ourselves always 
with absolute exactness would be to wallow in lengthy verbosities as 
useless as they would be pedantic. 

We may say, then, that (we are carried outside the logico-experi- 
mental field entirely whenever we reason in terms which do not lie 
in that field) and t hat we are carried partially nntside ir whenever w e 
reason in indefinite terms which correspond to experimental en- 
tities only in part (Chapter X). This last proposition must be taken 
in the sense that if our terms have that minimum of indefiniteness 
which corresponds to the present state of knowledge, they take us 
so little putside the experimental field that we may overlook the ex- 
trusion|Though there are no chemical substances that are absolutely 
pure, the laws of chemistry are valid, in very close approximation, 
for the substances that our methods of analysis designate as pureT]^ 

109. People in the vast majority use common everyday l angua^rg, 
f^A few scientists use scientific language in their specialties, outside 
_ of which they reason as badly as the plain man — and often worse.^ 
Human beings are prompted to acquire such knowledge as they 
have from common speech by two sorts of motives: first, because 
they assume that a word necessarily corresponds to a thing, yvhereby 
t he name becomes everyrhing and so metimes even acquires my st£.r 
rious properties ; and, second, be cause of the great ease with whidi- 
a "science" can be so constituted , each person carrying within him- 
self all that is required for that purpose, without going to the pains 
of long, difficult, and tedious researches. It is much easier to talk 
about antipodes than to go out and see if they are really there. To 
discuss the implication of a "principle of fire" or "damp" is much 
more expeditious than to prosecute all the field studies that have 
made up the science of geology.[To ruminate on "natural law" is a 
much more comfortable profession than to dig out the legal codes of 
the various countries in various periods of historyTjxLpiattl^jhQut 
"val ue" and ask when and nnder what rifc^um'^tanrp'^ it is s aid that 
" a thing has value" is much less difficult than to discover and com- 
prpVipnrl thr l^w^ '^f th^ ecouomic equilibrium. ^ 

In view of all that, (one readily understands how the history of 



the sciences down to our time is substantially a history of the battles 
that t he experimental methgd has had to fight and still has to figh t 
a gainst the methods of introspection, etymology, analysis o f yprhc^\ 
p ypressinn . Defeated and put to rout in one place, the latter method 
bobs up in another. If it cannot fight in the open it dissembles, flat- 
tening out like a snake in the grass, and so succeeds in making its 
way into the very camp of the adversary under guise of something 

110. In our day the method has been largely banished from the 
physical sciences, and the advances they have made are the fruit 
of that proscription. But(it is still strutting about in political econ- 
omy and more blatantly still in sociology;) whereas if those sciences 

wnnld p rngrf-ss^ it ic imppraHvp fhaf fhpy shnnld follow the example 
- set by the pV»ysiVa1 <:ri>nrp«; (§ ii8). 

111. Belief that the facts of the universe and their relationships 
could be discovered by introspection was general in a day gone by, 

^and it still remains the foundation of metaphysics, which seeks 
a crit erion of truth outside experiea cf Tn nur.uiav4t found its cornp" 
plete expression in the lun acies of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature^ 
One need hardly observe that /mankind has never discovered the 
puniest uniformity in the facts of nature in that fashion)(§§ 50, 484). 

112. The positivism of Herbert Spencer is nothing but a meta- 
physics . Though Spencer asserts the relative nature of all knowledge, 

_he still speaks of the relations of knowledge to ''a bsolute reality ." ^ 
He asserts the existence of an Unkno wable, but claims, by an amu s- 
ing contradiction, to know at least something about i t." 

113. In all the rustle and bustle of our daily lives we cannot of 
course speak in the manner or with the severity of the logico-experi- 

112 "^ First Principles, §46. "T hought being possible only under relation, the 
r elative reality can be conceived as such only in connexion with an absolute reality; 
and the connexion between the two bein g absolutely pe rsistent in our conscious - 
ness, is real in the same sense as the terms it unites are real." All of Spencer's 
writing is packed with such concepts. 

112 2 Here is an example selected at random: Ibid., § 48: "Such being our cogni- 
tion of the relative reality, what are we to say of the absolute reality? W e can only 
say that it is some mode of the Unknowable, related to the Matter we know as cause 
to effec t." T here are people who will tc] ] yon they nndersrand rhnt. 


mental sciences (§§ 108-09), ^nd we are therefore led to ascribe great 
importance to words. (Whenever we are able to give a name to a 
thing, it succeeds by that sole fact in finding a place in a class of 
objects of which the properties are known, and its properties there- 
fore also become known.) Furthermore — and it is the point that 
really matters — t he thing is viewed in the light of the sentim ents the 
name arouses , and it is to it s advantage, therefore, to have a name 
that awakens favourable sentiments and to its disadvantage t o have a 
name inspiring unfavourable sentiments .^ 

In practical life it would be difficult, nay impossible, to do other- 
wise. We cannot go to the bottom of all the multifarious questions 
that are at every moment arising— ^e cannot test everything in the 
crucible of doubt.) Once we admit that a man's hat is his, that is 
the end of it; he puts it on his head and goes his way; and we 
could not, before permitting him to take it, debate the real nature 
of property, nor settle the problem of individual or collective 
property or other problems of the kind. 

I n civilized countries civil and penal laws have an exact termi-, 
nolog y; and so in order to pass judgment upon an act one must first 
know the name by which it can be designated. Ordinary speech too 
has maxims in large numbers, which, save for exactness, in which 
they are usually wanting, are like the articles in a code of law; so 
for maxims too the name to be given to an act or a thing is of great 
importance. The legislator uses terms in the meanings they com- 
monly have among the people for whom he is legislating. He need 
not wait for scientists to agree upon a definition of the term "reli- 
gion" before he makes laws governing sacrilege, religious freedom, 
and the like. We talk of numberless things offhand, never exactl y 
defining their nature and traits , l ^ractical life evolves in the ap proxi- 
mate . Sriencp alone aims at the precise. 

Within the sphere of that approximate we get theorems that cor- 
respond to facts so long as they are not extended beyond the scope, 
at times very limited, within which they are valid. Ordinary lan- 
guage crystallizes and preserves them, and it is there that we can 

113 ^ Of that we shall give many examples in the pages that follow. 



recover and use them, but always with the reservation that, roughly 
approximative and true only within certain limits (which as a rule 
are unknown to us), they become false outside those limits (Chapter 
XI). Su ch theorems are theorems of words rather than of things; 
and we can therefore conclude that in practical life, for purposes of 
i nfluencing others, and oftentimes in the early beginnings of the sci- 
ences, words are of great importance, and that it is by no means a 
waste of time to quarrel over them. 

114. Bu/as regards investigations in experimental science our con- 
clusion must be precisely opposite. Such researches envisage things 
exclusively, and can therefore derive no advantage from words . '^ 
They can, however, incur great harm, whether because of the senti- 
ments that words arouse, or because the existence of a word may 
lead one astray as to the reality of the thing that it is supposed 
t o represent (§§ 366-67), and so introduce into the experimental field 
imaginary entities such as the fictions of metaphysics or theolo g y ; 
or, finally, because reasonings based on words are as a rule woefu lly 
l acking in exactnes s. 

115^So the more advanced sciences develop languages of their 
own as a result both of coining new terms and of giving special 
meanings to terms of ordinary parlance.) The "water" of chemistry, 
the "light" of physics, the "velocity" of mechanics, have senses very 
different from the meanings of those identical words in everyday 

Y116. A simple device often serves to determine whether an argu- 
ment is of the variety that relies on sentiment or on the assistance 
of the more or less vague notions stored up in the vernacular, or of 
the variety peculiar to experimental science. It is sufficient to (sub- 
stitute plain letters of the alphabet, a, b,c . . . for the key-words in 
it.) If the argument loses cogency, it belongs to the first class; if it 
retains its full vigor, it belongs to the second (§ 642). ~p' 
III7. Like other sciences, political economy began by using terms 
from the vernacular, trying merely to give them meanings some- 
what more exact; and so it became enriched with the wealth of ex- 
perience accumulated in everyday language — a capital by no means 


inconspicuous, for economic operations make up a large fraction of 
human activity. But then gradually, as political economy progressed, 
that advantage waned, andCthe drawbacks involved in the use of such 
terms became more and more irksome^ Jevons in his day very wisely 
dispensed with t he word "value ." which from being stretched in 
this, that, and every direction, and from h avin g countless meanings, 
ended by having no meaning at al l (§ 62 ^) ; and he proposed a new 
term, "rate of exchange," of which he gave an exact definition 

llq^iterary economists did not follow him along that road; and 

they are llo chls day stiTl dilly-dallying with speculations such as 
" What is valu e?" " What is capita l?" They cannot get it into thei n 
heads that things are everything and words nothing , and that they , 
may apply the terms "value" and "capital" to any blesse d_things_ 
they please , so only they be kind enough — they never are — to tell 
one precisely what those things are. If their arguments partook of 
experimental science, they would continue to hold even if blanks 
were used for the terms "value" and "capital"; for t he name being 
t aken away , the things still stand, and it is in things alone that ex-_ 
perimental science is interested .^ But since such arguments are pri- 
marily rhetorical, they are strictly dependent on words capable of 
arousing the sentiments that are useful in convincing people; and 
that is why(literary economists very properly are so much concerned 

118 ^ In my Manuale I showed that economic theories can just as well be elab- 
orated without mention of the terms "value," "price," "capital," and the like. 
Literary economists cannot see it that way; and to an extent they are right, since 
for them the term "capital," let us say, designates not a thing but a sum of senti- 
ments, and naturally enough they want to keep a term to designate that sum. To 
humour them, the thinj might be called "objective capital," and the complex of 
sentiments "subjective capital." Then one could say: "Economic theories concerned 
exclusively with investigating relationships between economic facts have nothing 
to do with the concept 'subjective capital.' They may or may not, as they choose, 
utilize the concept 'objective capital.' " And going on: "Economic theories that 
aim at making converts and thereby at achieving some practical result can turn the 
concept of 'subjective capital' to good account, converts being made by appeals to 
sentiment. For that reason it is the wiser part for them to create a confusion be- 
tween the notions of 'objective capital' and 'subjective capital,' so that the scientific 
argument will not avail against the sentimental argument." At some few points 
such theories approximate the concrete more closely than the theories of pure 



about words and much less about things^Anyone asking what value 
is, what capital is, what income is, and the like, shows by that mere 
fact that he is concerned primarily with words and secondarily with 
things^The word "capital" certainly exists for him. What he is in 
doubt about is what it means, and he sets out to discover that. This 
procedure might be justifiable on a reasoning developed as follows: 
"There is something unknown that acts upon language and gives 
rise to the word 'capital.' Sinc^ ordinary words are exact copies of ■^, 
t he things they represen t, we can understand the thing by studyin g 
the word . So by finding out what capital is, we shall come to know 
the thing unknown." The fallacy in the j ustification lies in the prop- 
osition italicized. It is false.vFor more convincing proof one need 
simply substitute for the term "capital" some scientific term such as 
"water," and see whether the most painstaking inquiry as to what 
it is that is called water will ever reveal the properties of the chemi- 
cally pure substance known by that name. \ 
/In science the course followed is the exact opposite: first one ex - 
amines the thing and then hunts up a name to give iL ^jUFirst one 
considers the substance formed by combining oxygen and hydrogen, 
and then a term is sought to designate it JSince the substance in ques- 
tion is present in great quantities in the vaguely defined thing that 
the ordinary vernacular designates as water, we call it water. But 
it might have been called otherwise — "lavoisier," for instance — and 
all of chemistry would stand exactly as it is. We would simply say 

economics, for they inject into the concept of "subjective capital" sociological notions 
that have no place in scientific economics. But they still have the fatal defect of 
being entirely devoid of exactness. If one would get closer to the concrete, instead 
of introducing sociological concepts implicitly and as it were by stealth, it would 
be better to advance them openly: that would make at least a certain amount of 
definiteness unavoidable. All such things can be better seen from Sensini's 
La teoria della rendita. 

The concept "subjective capital" becomes of prime importance to sociology, which 
is in fact directly concerned with the sentiments expressed in such terms; and since 
the concrete phenomenon is both economic and sociological, anyone studying it in 
applied economics inevitably encounters notions analogous to "subjective capital." 
That is why, in my Mantiale, I examined concrete phenomena not only from the 
strictly economic standpoint, but also as regards the manners in which they are 
conceived by the individuals involved in them (see the caption Veditta soggettiva in 
the index to the Man tide). 


that the Hquid present in rivers and in the sea contains great quan- 
tities of lavoisier.(Literary economists and sociologists do not under- 
stand such things, for they are wanting in the mental attitude and 
the training required for understanding them^p* 
yil9 .(ln these volumes we intend to keep strictly to the logico- 
experimental method (§108) and deal exclusively with things. ^ 
Words therefore are of no importance whatever to us ; they are mere 
labels for keeping track of things. So we say, "Such and such a thing 
we are going to call A"; or, "We suggest calling it A." We do not 
say — an entirely different matter — "Such and such a thing is A." 
The first proposition is a definition, and we are free to word it as we 
choose. The second is a theorem, and requires demonstration; but 
before we can prove it we have to know exactly what ^ is (§ 963). 

To avoid in these volumes the danger, ever threatening in the 
social sciences, that meanings of words will be persistently sought 
not in the objective definitions supplied but in common usage and 
etymology, we would gladly have replaced word-labels with letters 
of the alphabet, such 2iS a, b, c . . . or: with ordinal numbers; and 
that we have done for some parts of our exposition (§ 798). We have 
refrained from doing so more often in fear lest our argument be- 
come altogether too tedious and obscure. So here we follow the ex- 
ample of the chemist who continues using the term "water" but 
gives it an exact meaning.^ 

We too shall use terms of ordinary parlance, explaining exacdy 
what they are to represent. We accordingly urge the reader to keep 
strictly to such definitions and never to try to guess from etymology 
or common usage the meanings of the technical terms that he finds 
in these volumes. The reader will shortly be meeting the terms "resi- 
dues" and "derivations" (§ 868). If he desires to know what they 
mean, let him refer exclusively to the definitions we furnish. If he 

119 1 One should here recall the points alluded to in § 108. There is nothing abso- 
lute in logico-experimental science. Here the term "exact" means "with the least pos- 
sible margin of error." Science tries to bring theory as close to the facts as possible, 
knowing very well that absolute coincidence cannot be attained. If, in view of that 
impossibility, anyone refuses to be satisfied with approximate exactness, he had better 
emigrate from this concrete world, for it has nothing better to offer. 



were to seek their meaning in etymology or common acceptation, he 
would be certain to find things very different from the things we 
label with them. If anyone does not like them, he may feel quite 
free to replace them with others — we shall never quarrel on that 
score. And he will see that with his own terms, or better yet, using 
letters of the alphabet or numerals, all our arguments will stand 
just the same. 

Anyone finding these explanations superfluous must be patient. 
My excuse is that similar explanations ever and anon repeated for 
my term "ophelimity" did not prevent literary economists from seek- 
ing its meaning in etymology; while others, who must truly have 
had a deal of time to waste, began wondering whether "desirability" 
would not have been a better name." Nor could I silence such idle 
prattle by showing that we could very well do without "ophelimity" 
and all other similar terms in developing economic theories.^ ^~/^ 

120. In these volumes I shall use, for the reasons just stated, a 
number of terms that are also used in mechanics. I must accordingly 
make clear the exact senses in which I use them. 

121. Let A, B,C . . . stand for certain things that have a capacity 
for influencing an economic or social situation. We may consider 
the situation either at a moment when the action of such things is 
not yet exhausted, or at a moment when it is entirely spent. Let A, 
for instance, stand for an individual's desire to drink wine, and B 
for a fear he has that it may injure his health. The man drinks one 
glass of wine, then a second, and then he stops, because after the 
second glass the fear effectively curbs the thirst. After the first glass 
the movement is not complete: the thirst is still effective in spite 
of the fear. Not even the fear has completed its work, because it has 
not yet quenched the individual's desire for drinking wine. It is 
evident that when we are considering a situation we have to specify 

119 ^ Pareto, Maitiiel, p. 556, note i. 

119 ^ For other misconceptions arising from lack of exactness in language and 
from the prattle of literary economics, see my Manuel, pp. 219, note i; 246, 329, 
note i; 333, note i; 391, note i; 414, 439, note i; 544, note i; 6},6, note i; 638, 
note i; but especially, Sensini, La teoria delta rendita, and Boven, Les applications 
mathematiques a I'economie politique. 


whether we are considering it at a time when the things A, B have 
not completed, or at a time when they have completed, their action. 
In mechanics there is an analogous situation — analogous, notice, 
not identical — where two forces are acting upon a physical point. 
So instead of speaking of two things, A, B, that have a capacity for 
influencing an economic or a social situation, we may for the sake 
of brevity speak of two forces, A and B. 

122. The intermediate stage in which the individual has drunk 
the first glass of wine and is about to drink another, in which, that 
is, the work of A and B is not yet completed, is described in me- 
chanics by saying that an equilibrium has not yet been attained. 
The stage in which both the thirst and the fear have completed 
their work, so that the individual ceases drinking, is described in 
mechanics by saying that an equilibrium has been attained. By 

inalogy, not from identity, w e may likewise use the term equi- 
librium tor an economic or a social situation. 

123. But an analogy is not a definition; and we should be delib- 
erately exposing ourselves to ready and frequent error were we satis- 
fied with such an analogy to represent the social or economic equi- 
librium. We are therefore called upon to give an exact definition of 
the economic or social equilibrium in question; and the reader will 
find it in Chapter XII. 

124. Keeping to the definition of the thing, we can change the 
term at will and the arguments will stand just the same. For ex- 
ample, instead of calling A and B "forces," we might call them "in- 
fluences" ("operative things") or even "things /.'' The state defined 
above we might call rsXoc,, or even "state X," instead of "equilib- 
rium." In which cases all the arguments in which we have used the 
terms "forces" and "equilibrium" would still hold. 

125. It is therefore a monumental stupidity to say, as one critic 
said, that when I speak of a state of equilibrium, I am thinking of a 
state which I consider better than another state, equilibrium being 
better than lack of equilibrium! 

126. By similar analogy we can use other terms from mechanics 
in economics and sociology. Suppose we are considering a society in 

§129 terminology: "ties" (i"] 

which private property exists. We may propose to study the possible 
forms of such a society, premising always the condition that private 
property exist. In the same way other relationships supply other 
conditions that we may assume or not assume as premises. Similar 
situations are met with in mechanics, and there the conditions in 
question are known as ties {vinculo). By analogy, we can use that 
term in economics and sociology as well.^ However, if there were 
no other analogies with mechanics it would be useless to do that, 
and better in particular not to use the term "tie." 

127. Suppose we are considering a system of material points main- 
tained by certain tieSj and upon which certain forces A, B, C . . . 
are acting. The successive positions of the points will be determined 
by the resultant of the forces as modified by the ties. Now take a 
given group of individuals. Certain conditions prevail, such as pri- 
vate property, freedom (or slavery), technical training, wealth, sci- 
entific knowledge, religion, and so on. Active also in the group are 
certain individual desires, interests, prejudices, and the like. The suc- 
cessive states of the group may be assumed as determined by these 
latter elements working in conjunction with the conditions (the 
ties) premised. 

128. So by analogy — never from identity — we can call the group 
a social or an economic system and say that certain forces are acting 
upon it, which determine the position of the points in the system in 
conjunction with the ties. Considerations of brevity solely and 
strictly counsel the use of such terms, and as always they may be 
replaced by others at pleasure. 

129. A transition from one state to another is called a movement 
in mechanics, and it may be so called in sociology also. In mechanics, 
if we assume that ties and forces are determined, movements in the 
system are likewise determined. So in sociology, if we assume con- 
ditions and active influences as given, the various successive states of 

126 ^ [Pareto's word was vincolo, "bond." The vincolo is a force that conditions 
the operation of another force. The term vinculum itself has a certain currency in 
technical sociologies. In most connexions it can well be translated as "condidon," or 
"check," and more generally as "correlation," or even as "premise." In deference 
to the baroque quality of Pareto's own term, I render it regularly as "tie." — A. L.] 


the group are determined. Such movements are called real in me- 
chanics, and may be so called in sociology. 

130. If, for theoretical purposes, we assume as suppressed some 
tie in a mechanical system, some condition in a sociological group, 
the mechanical system will show movements different from the 
real, and the sociological group will attain states other than those 
it really attains. Such movements are called virtual in mechanics, 

|and virtual they may be called in sociology. For example, a person 
investigating what society would be like if private property were 
to be abolished is making a study in virtual movements. 

131. We can think of the "ties" and "forces" in the social system 
as summed together; and if we designate the aggregate by the term 
"conditions," the so-called theory of determinism could be stated 
by saying that the state of a system is wholly determined by "condi- 
tions" and can therefore change only with a change in "condi- 

132. Science has no dogmas, and so cannot and must not accept 
determinism a priori; and so far as it does accept it, it must, as 
always, do so strictly within the limits of the time and space that 
have been investigated. With that premise solidly established, ex- 
perience indicates that in many cases social situations seem really to 
be determined by "conditions" and change only with changes in 
"conditions." In such cases we therefore recognize determinism, but 
without in the least precluding that there may be other cases where 
it cannot be granted.^ 

133. From the standpoint of the deterministic hypothesis, we are 
now called upon to solve a problem that is continually arising in one 

131 ^ Here, accordingly, the term "conditions" has a different and more compre- 
hensive meaning than it had in § 126. 

132 ^ Naville, review of Bergson, Op. cit., p. 11: "I am well aware that deter- 
minism has its fascination for the scholar and affords great satisfaction to the scien- 
tific mind. [More exactly, "to the theology of Reason."] Determinism is the belief 
[That word alone should serve to give warning that we are overstepping the bound- 
aries of experimental science.] that everything can be explained, and what the sci- 
entist wants is explanations. Determinism is the conviction that all phenomena can 
be understood, associated, that is, with other phenomena that envelop and produce 
them. . , . But however natural the inclination [to determinism] may be, it proves 
nothing, and not all scientists succumb to it." 


form or another in history and sociology.^ Accordinp^ to determin - 
ism, whatever happens cannot happen otherwis e; and so the terms 
"possible" and "impossible" as used in ordinary language have no 
meaning, since only that is possible which happens, and what does 
not happen is impossible. We do not choose to quarrel over words ; 
so if anyone is inclined to throw such terms overboard, let us do so 
by all means. All the same, after they have been dispensed with we 
are still confronted with the different things that were designated by 
them, and for which it will be expedient to find other designations. 

John Doe did not have his dinner yesterday, but speaking in ordi- 
nary terms, it was "possible" for him to dine. He did not cut off his 
head; but it was "impossible" for him to cut off his head, then glue 
it on again and be alive and well today. It may well be that from 
the standpoint of determinism the two things are equally impossi- 
ble; but it is also evident that they are different kinds of things, and 
it would be a grave misfortune if we were unable to designate the 
different classes to which they belong. Suppose, for the moment, 
we label the first class (I) and the second (II). It is at once apparent 
that the difference between (I) and (II) lies in the fact that cases 
like (I) have been often enough observable, whereas no case like 
(II) has ever been seen. 

134. To be more exact ifin both cases we are dealing with "vir- 
tual" movements ; and in declaring them both impossible, determin- 
ism is merely calling them virtual as opposed to real movements.] 
But there is more than one class of virtual movements/ There is a 
class of virtual movements that take place when we assume as absent 
a certain tie which was not absent at the time the real movement in 
question was observed,]but which has been found absent on other 
occasions, when real movements equivalent to the virtual movement 
have been observable. That movement therefore belongs in the class 
we have called (I) and which, in ordinary langauge, is a class of 
possible things.( There is another class of virtual movements that 
would take place only if we assumed as absent a tie which has never 
been found absent, so that real movements equivalent to such vir- 
tual movements have never been observed.jThese belong to the class 


we have called (II), which in ordinary terms is a class of impossible 
things. Having so supplied exact definitions of the things that the 
terms "possible" and "impossible" designate, there can be no objec- 
tion to using them even with the hypothesis of determinism. 

135/Of what conceivable use can the study of virtual movements 
be if they are things foreign to the domain of reality and only real 
movements actually occur ?jThe advantages are, in chief, two: 

I. If we are considering virtual movements that have not been 
real because of the presence of ties which have been found absent 
on other occasions — if, in other words, we are considering move- 
ments that are virtual in some cases but are observable as real in 
others — knowledge of the virtual movements may help to foresee 
vyhat the real movements are going to be like . Such, for instance, 
are forecasts as to the effects of a certain piece of legislation or of 
some other practical measure. 

2I Consideration of virtual movements may help towards isolating 
and determining the character and peculiarities of a given social 

136. The propositions "A determines B" and "If there were no A 
there would be no B" state the same fact, in the one case as a func- 
tion of A, in the other in terms of a virtual movement. The proposi- 
tions "In such and such a state society has a maximum of A" and 
"If society departs from that state, there will be a diminution in A" 
express the same fact, in the first case as a description of the state, 
in the second in terms of a virtual movement. 

137^ In the social sciences, virtual movements are to be resorted to 
with great caution, for very very often we have no means of know- 
ing what the consequences of suppressing some condition, some tie, 
would be.jlf a person says, "If the Emperor Julian had continued 
very long on the throne, the Christian religion would not have sur> 
vived," he is assuming that the death of Julian was alone responsible 
for the triumph of Christianity. And if one answers, "If the Em- 
peror Julian had continued longer on the throne, he might have re- 
tarded, but could not have prevented, the triumph of Christianity," 
one is assuming that there were other conditions present which 


made that triumph certain. In general, propositions of this second 
variety are more often verifiable than are propositions of the first 
kind. In many cases, that is, social developments are determined by 
the concurrent action of large numbers of conditions; so that the 
removal of any one of them disturbs the course of events but slightly. 

138. Conditions, furthermore, are not independent. Many of them 
influence each other. Nor is that all. The effects of conditions react 
in turn upon the conditions themselves. In a word, social facts — that 
is to say, conditions and effects — are interdependent, and modifica- 
tions in one of them react upon larger or smaller numbers of the 
others, and with greater or lesser intensities. 

139. That is why attempts to remake history by conjecturing what 
would have happened had a certain event never occurred are alto- 
gether fatuous.^We have no way of determining all the changes that 
would have taken place on a given hypothesis if the hypothesis had 
come true.\ What would have happened had Napoleon won at 
Waterloo? Only one answer is possible — "We do not know." 

140j(We can get something a little better by keeping to effects 
that are very immediate in a very limited field, and progress in the 
social sciences will tend gradually to enlarge those very restricted 
confines.j^Every time we succeed in discovering some hitherto un- 
known relation between social facts, we are a little better prepared 
to know what the effects of certain changes in the social situation 
will be;^nd pushing on along that road we make new advances, 
however slight, towards realizing the purpose of determining the 
probable course of social developments in the future. Therefore no 
study that aims at d i scovering some uniformity in the relations of 
social facts can be called useless. It may be useless at the present 
time and continue to be so in any near future; but we cannot be 
sure that the day will not come wh en, taken in conj unction with, 
other discoveries, it will contribute towards forec asting probabilities 
in social evolution., 

141. The difficulties in discovering social uniformities are great 
because of the great complexity of social phenomena. They are im- 
measurably increased, and in fact become insuperable, when uni- 


formities are sought not with the one and undivided intent of dis- 
covering them, but with the purpose, expHcitly chosen or tacitly set 
by sentiment, of justifying a preconception, a doctrine, a faith. Just 

'/such impediments account for the present backward state of the 

ijrsocial sciences.) 

142. The man entirely unaffected by sentiments and free fr om all 
bias, all faith, does not exist ; a nd to re^ rd that freedom as an essen- 
tial prerequisite to profitable study of the social sciences would 
amount t o saying that such study is impossible( lBut experience shows 
that a person can as it were divide himself in two and, to an extent 
at least, lay aside his sentiments, preconceptions, and beliefs when 
engaged in a scientific pursuit, resuming them afterwards.jThat was 
the case with Pasteur, who outside his laboratory was a devout Cath- 
olic, but inside kept strictly to the experimental method. And before 
Pasteur one might mention Newton, who certainly used one method 
in discoursing on the Apocalypse and quite another in his Principia. 
143.(Such self-detachment is more readily achieved in the natural 
sciences than in the social sciences.)f t is an easy matter to look at an 
ant with the sceptical disinterestedness of experimental science. It is 
much more difficult to look at human beings that way^ But even if 
complete success in such an effort is impossible, we can at least try 
to succeed in part, and reduce the pow er and influence of senriments, 
preconceptions, beliefs, to a minimum . Only at th at prir.p can prog- 
ress in the social sciences be achieved. 

144/^ Social facts are the elements of our study. Our first effort will 
be to classify them for the purpose of attaining the one and only 
objective we have in view: the discovery, namely, of uniformities ' 
(laws) in the relations between them) When we have so classified 
kindred facts, a certain number of uniformities will come to the. 7 

^ surface by induction ; andafter going a g[ood qfttance alon^^ that 
primarily inductive path, we shall turn to another whe re more 
ample room will be found for deductio n/ So we shall verify the uni- 
formities to which induction has carried us, give them a less em- 
pirical, more theoretical form, and see just what their implications 
are, just what picture they give of society. J 


In general we have to deal with things that vary by imperc eptible 
degrees, and our picture of them approximates reality the more 
closely in proportion as it is drawn in c^uantitative term s. That factj 
if often recognized by saying that as sciences progress, they tend to 
become more and more quantitative . But that is much more difficult' 
than to studymerely qualitative diff erences.(ln fact, the first forward 
step lies always in a rough quantitative approximat ion.^ ) 

It is no difficult matter to distinguish day from night with toler- 
able accuracy. Though there is no precise instant at which day ends 
and night begins, we can after all roughly say that there is a qualita- 
tive difference between them. It is more difficult to divide such 
periods of time into parts. We manage to do so approximately by 
saying "shortly after sunrise," "towards noon," and the like; and 
with more or less success — less rather than more — the night used 
to be divided into "watches."(When clocks came to be available, it 
was possible to get quantitative measurements of time, the exactness 
increasing with improvements in clocks and becoming very consid- 
erable with the modern chronometer?) 

For a long time people were satisfied with knowing that the 
death-rate was higher among the aged than among the young, no 
one as usual knowing very definitely where youth ended and old 
age began. Then something more was learned; statistics were made 
available, very imperfect statistics at first, then better ones, now 
fairly good ones — and they are steadily improving^ For a long time 
there was very little of the quantitative about political economy.) 

144 ^ The terms "quality," "quantity," "qualitative," "quantitative," will at all 
times be used in these volumes not in any metaphysical sense but in the sense com- 
monly used in chemistry in contrasting qualitative with quantitative analysis. The 
one shows, for instance, that a given substance is an alloy of gold and copper; the 
other shows the weight of gold and the weight of copper present in a given weight 
of the alloy.(Whenever we note the presence of a certain element in a sociological 
complex, we are stating a qualitative proposition!^ When we are in a position to des- 
ign ate, however roughly, the intensity of that element, our proposidon become s 
quantitative . Unfortunatel)( no scales are available for weighing the things that are | 
dealt with in sociology, and we shall generally have to be satisfied with designating 1 
quandties by certain indices that increase or diminisb with the thing- itself.) An ' 
interesting example of that method applied to political economy is provided in my 
use of indices of opheliflaity (see my Manuale, Appendix). 


Then it became quantitative in pure economics — in theory at least. 
For sociology we shall try as far as we can to replace qualitative 
c onsiderations with considerations of quantity .^Imperfect, very im- 
perfect, as they may be, they will at any rate be a little better than 
the qualitative) We shall do what we can, our successors will do 
better — and so science advances! 

In these volumes we shall confine ourselves to a very general pic- 
ture — something like a sphere offered as a model of the Earth. That 
is why I call this a seneral sociolog y- Details will still be left for 
future study — much as oceans, continents, and mountains have to 
be drawn in on the sphere of the Earth. Such studies would make 
up a special sociology. Incidentally, however, we shall examine not 
a few special themes in the course of these volumes ; f or(we shall be 
meeting them- all along the path we shall have to traverse in get- 
ting our picture of society in general.^ 


Non-logical Conduct^ 

145. So far we have stated our attitude in writing these volumes 
and the field in which we intend to remain. Now we are to study 
human conduct, the states of mind to which it corresponds and the 
ways in which they express themselves, in order to arrive eventually 
at our goal, which is to discover the forms of society. We are follow- 
ing the inductive method. We have no preconceptions, no a priori 
notions. We find certain facts before us. We describe them, classify 
them, determine their character, ever on the watch for some uni- 
formity (law) in the relationships between them. In this chapter we 
begin to interest ourselves in human actions.^ 

146. This is the first step we take along the path of induction. If 
we were to find, for instance, that all human actions corresponded to 
logico-experimental theories, or that such actions were the most im- 
portant, others having to be regarded as phenomena of social pathol- 
ogy deviating from a normal type, our course evidently would be 
entirely different from what it would be if many of the more im- 
portant human actions proved to correspond to theories that are not 

147. Let us accordingly examine actions from the standpoint of 

'^ [Pareto, following Bentham, invariably uses the word "actions" {azion'i) where 
ordinary English parlance uses "conduct" or "behaviour." Such phrases as "logical 
actions" and "non-logical actions" often lead to syntactical and other paradoxes in 
Pareto's text that have contributed not a litde to his occasional obscurity. For mere 
convenience azioni is rendered here by "conduct," "behaviour," "acts," "actions," 
more or less interchangeably. The literally-minded reader can always recover the 
feel of the original Italian by understanding those words as "actions" with construc- 
tions in the plural. More troublesome still to the translator is Pareto's use of the 
phrase "non-logical actions" for "the sentiments (or "impulses" or "residues") 
underlying non-logical actions," or for "the principles of non-logical acdons." There 
is no extricating him from that situation, and in it as a rule I leave hini. — A. L.] 

145 ^ Originally written in French, this chapter was in part translated into 
Italian by the Rivista italiana di sociologia, and published in that review, May- 
August, 1910. 



their logicoexperimental character. But in order to do that we must 
first try to classify them, and in that effort we propose to follow the 
principles of the classifi c gtinn called natural in botany and zoology, 
whereby objects on the whole"presenfing~similar characteristics are 
grouped together. In the case of botany Tournefort's classification 
was very wisely abandoned. It divided plants into "herbs" and 
"trees," and so came to separate entities that as a matter of fact pre- 
sent close resemblances. The so-called natural method nowadays 
preferred does away with all divisions of that kind and takes as its 
norm the characteristics of plants in the mass, putting like with like 
and keeping the unlike distinct. Can we find similar groupings to 
classify the actions of human beings? 

148. It is not actions as we find them in the concrete that we are 
called upon to classify, but the elements constituting them. So the 
chemist classifies elements and compounds of elements, whereas in 
nature what he finds is mixtures of compounds. Concrete actions \ 
are synthetic — they originate in mixtures, in varying degrees, of the I 
elements we are to classify. 

149. Every social phenomenon may be considered under two as- 
pects: as it is in reality, and as it presents itself to the mind of this 
or that human being. The first aspect we shall call objective, the 
second subjective (§§94f.). Such a division is necessary, for we 
cannot put in one same class the operations performed by a chemist 
in his laboratory and the operations performed by a person prac- 
tising magic; the conduct of Greek sailors in plying their oars to 
drive their ship over the water and the sacrifices they offered to 
Poseidon to make sure of a safe and rapid voyage. In Rome the Laws 
of the XII Tables punished anyone casting a spell on a harvest. We 
choose to distinguish such an act from the act of burning a field 
of grain. 

We must not be misled by the names we give to the two classes. \ 
In reality both are subjective, for all human knowledge is subjective. J 
They are to be distinguished not so much by any difference in na- 
ture as in view of the greater or lesser fund of factual knowledge 



that we ourselves have. We know, or think we know, that sacrifices 
to Poseidon have no effect whatsoever upon a voyage. We therefore 
distinguish them from other acts which (to our best knowledge, at 
least) are capable of having such effect. If at some future time we 
were to discover that we have been mistaken, that sacrifices to Posei- 
don are very influential in securing a favourable voyage, we should 
have to reclassify them with actions capable of such influence. All 
that of course is pleonastic. It amounts to saying that when a person 
makes a classification, he does so according to the knowledge he has. 

I, One cannot imagine how things could be otherwise. 
■! 150. There are actions that use means appropriate to ends and 
which logically link means with ends. There are other actions in 
which those traits are missing. The two sorts of conduct are very 
different according as they are considered under their objective or 
their subjective aspect. From the subjective point of view nearly all 
human actions belong to the logical class. In the eyes of the Greek 
mariners sacrifices to Poseidon and rowing with oars were equally 
^ logical means of navigation. To avoid verbosities which could only 
prove annoying, we had better give names to these types of conduct.^ 
Suppose we apply the term logical actions to actions that logically 

■ x conjoin means to ends not only from the standpoint of the subject 

performing them, but from the standpoint of other persons who 
have a more extensive knowledge — in other words, to actions that 

■ • are logical both subjectively and objectively in the sense just ex- 

plained. Other actions we shall call non-logical (b_y no m eans the 
same as "illogical"). This latter class we shall subdivide into a num- 
ber of varieties. 

150 ^ As we have already said (§§ 116 f.), it would perhaps be better to use desig- 
nations that have no meanings in themselves, such as letters of the alphabet. On the 
other hand, such a system would impair the clarity of our argument. We must 
therefore resign ourselves to using terms of ordinary speech; but the reader must 
bear in mind that such words, or their etymologies, in no way serve to describe the 
things they stand for. Things have to be examined directly. Names are just labels to 
help us keep track of them (§ 119). 


151. A synoptic picture of the classification will prove useful: 


Objectively? Subjectively? 


(The objective end and the subjective purpose are identical.) 

Yes Yes 


(The objective end differs from the subjective purpose.) 
Genus i No No 

Genus 2 No Yes 

Genus 3 Yes No 

Genus 4 Yes Yes 


3a, 4a The objective end w^ould be accepted by the sub- 

ject if he knew it. 

3/3, ^(5 The objective end would be rejected by the sub- 

ject if he knew it. 

The ends and purposes here in question are immediate ends and 
purposes. We choose to disregard the indirect. The objective end is 
a real one, located within the field of observation and experience, 
and not an imaginary end, located outside that field. An imaginary 
end may, on the other hand, constitute a subjective purpose. 

152. Logical actions are very numerous among civilized peoples. 
Actions connected with the arts and sciences belong to that class, at 
least for artists and scientists. For those who physically perform 
them in mere execution of orders from superiors, there may be 
among them non-logical actions of our II-4 type. The actions dealt 
with in political economy also belong in very great part in the 
class of logical actions. In the same class must be located, further, a 
certain number of actions connected with military, political, legal, 
and similar activities. 

153. So at the very first glance induction leads to the discovery 
that non-logical actions play an important part in society. Let us 
therefore proceed with our examination of them. 



154. First of all, in order to get better acquainted with these non- 
logical actions, suppose we look at a few examples. Many others will 
find their proper places in chapters to follow. Here are some illus- 
trations of actions of Class II: 

Genera i and 3, which have no subjective purpose, are of scant 
importance to the human race. Human beings have a very conspicu- 
ous tendency to paint a varnish of logic over their conduct. Nearly 
all humaff "actions therefore work their way into genera 2 and 4. 
Many actions performed in deference to courtesy and custom might 
be put in genus i. But very very often people give some reason or 
other to justify such conduct, and that transfers it to genus 2. Ignor- 
ing the indirect motive involved in the fact that a person violating 
common usages incurs criticism and dislike, we might find a certain 
number of actions to place in genera i and 3. 

Says Hesiod : ^ "Do not make water at the mouth of a river empty- 
ing into the sea, nor into a spring. You must avoid that. Do not 
lighten your bowels there, for it is not good to do so." The precept 
not to befoul rivers at their mouths belongs to genus i. No objec- 
tive or subjective end or purpose is apparent in the avoidance of such 
pollution. The precept not to befoul drinking-water belongs to genus 
3. It has an objective purpose that Hesiod may not have known, but 
which is familiar to moderns: to prevent contagion from certain 

It is probable that not a few actions of genera i and 3 are com- 
mon among savages and primitive peoples. But travellers are bent 
on learning at all costs the reasons for the conduct they observe. So 
in one way or another they finally obtain answers that transfer the 
conduct to genera 2 and 4. 

155. Granting that animals do not reason, we can place nearly all 
their so-called instinctive acts in genus 3. Some may even go in i. 
Genus 3 is the pure type of the non-logical action, and a study of it 
as it appears in animals will help to an understanding of non-logical 
conduct in human beings. 

154 ^ opera et dies, vv. 757-58. 


Of the insects called Eumenes (pseudo-wasps) Blanchard writes 
that, like other Hymenoptera, they "suck the nectar of flowers when 
they are full grown [but that] their larvae feed only upon living 
prey; and since, like the larvae of wasps and bees, they are apodal 
and incapable of procuring food, they would perish at once if left to 
themselves. What happens, then, may be foreseen. The mother her- 
self has to procure food for her young. That industrious little ani- 
mal, who herself lives only on the honey of flowers, wages war upon 
the tribe of insects to assure a livelihood for her offspring. In order 
to stock its nest with victuals, this Hymenopteron nearly always at- 
tacks particular species of insects, and it knows how to find such 
species without any trouble, though to the scientist who hunts for 
them they seem very rare indeed. The female stings her victims 
with her dart and carries them to her nest. The insect so smitten 
does not die at once. It is left in a deep coma, which renders it in- 
capable of moving or defending itself. The larvae are hatched in 
close proximity to the provisions that have been laboriously accu- 
mulated by the mother, and find within their reach a food adapted 
to their needs and in quantities sufficient for their whole life as 
larvae. Nothing is more amazing than this marvellous foresight; 
and it is altogether instinctive, it would seem. In laying her eggs 
every female prepares food for young whom she will never see ; for 
by the time they are hatched she will long since have ceased to 

155 ^ Histoire des insectes, Vol. I, p. 71. But there is something else. Fabre made 
interesting observations of these insects and others of the kind. He succeeded in de- 
termining that the number of caterpillars prepared to feed the larva varies from five 
to ten, according as the insect is to be female or male. Since the egg is laid after the 
provisions have been stored, Fabre believes that the mother know^s beforehand the 
sex to which the egg is to belong {Souvenirs entomologiques, Ser. 2, pp. 72-73). He 
reverts to the matter of the sex of the egg in his third series (pp. 384 f.). Fabre 
managed to discover how the larva of the Eumenis is fed: Ibid., Ser. 2, pp. 78-79: 
"The egg is not laid on the food: it is hung from the ceiling of the dome by a fila- 
ment rivalling the thread of a spider's web in fineness. . . . The larva has hatched 
and is already of some size. Like the egg, it hangs by the back from the ceiling of its 
home. . . . The worm is now at table! Head down, he feels about over the soft belly 
of one of the caterpillars. With a wisp of straw I touch the game gently, before it 
has been bitten. The caterpillars begin wriggling, and the larva beats a hasty re- 


Other Hymenoptera, the Cerceres, attack Coleoptera. Here the 
action, subjectively non-logical, shows a marvellous objective logic. 
Suppose we let Fabre speak for himself. He observes that, in order 
to paralyze its prey, the Hymenopteron has first to find Coleoptera 
either with three thoracic ganglia very close together, contiguous in 
fact, or with the two rear ganglia joined. "That, really, is the prey 
they need. These Coleoptera, with motor centres situated so close 
together as to touch, forming a single mass and standing in intimate 
mutual connexions, can thus be paralyzed at a single thrust; or if 
several stings are needed, the ganglia that require treatment will at 
least lie together under the point of the stinger." Further along: 
"Out of the vast numbers of Coleoptera upon which the Cerceres 
might inflict their depredations, only two groups, the weevils and 
the Buprestes, fulfil the indispensable conditions. They live far from 
infested and noisome places, for which, it may be, the fastidious 
huntress has an unconquerable repugnance. Their numerous repre- 
sentatives vary in size, proportionate to the sizes of the various 
pirates, who are thus free to select their victims at pleasure. They, 
more than all others, are vulnerable at the one point where the 
stinger of the Hymenopteron can penetrate with success : for at that 
point the motor centres of the feet and wings are concentrated in 
such a way as to be readily accessible to the stinger. These three 
thoracic ganglia of the weevil lie very close together, the last two 
touching. In the Buprestes the second and third ganglia blend in a 
single bulky mass a short distance from the first. Now it is the 
weevils and the Buprestes precisely, to the absolute exclusion of all 
other prey, that we find hunted by the eight species of Cerceres that 
lay in stores of Coleoptera." ^ 

treat." It crawls back into a sort of sheath: "The covering of the egg is its tunnel 
of refuge. It still keeps its cylindrical form, prolonged a little perhaps by the special 
labours of the new-born larva. At the first signs of peril from the pile of caterpillars, 
the larva draws into its sheath and climbs back to the ceiling where the wriggling 
mob cannot reach it." Later on, when the worm has grown stronger and the 
caterpillars weaker, the worm drops to the floor. 

155 ^ Ibtd., Ser. i, pp. 67-79. Another truly extraordinary example is supplied in 
Fabre's Ser. 4, pp. 253-54. The Callicurgus hunts a certain spider, the Epeiron. 
The Epeiron "has under his throat two exceedingly sharp needles with drops 


156. For that matter, a certain number of actions in animals 
evince reasoning of a kind, or better, a sort of adaptation of means 
to ends as circumstances change. Says Fabre, whom we quote at 
such length because he has studied the subject better than anybody 
else:^ "For instinct nothing is difficult, so long as the act does not 
extrude from the fixed cycle that is the animal's birthright. For in- 
stinct also nothing is easy if the act has to deviate from the rut 
habitually followed. The insect that amazes for its high perspicacity 
will an instant later, when confronted with the simplest situation 
foreign to its ordinary practice, astound for its stupidity. , . . Dis- 
tinguishable in the psychic life of the insect are two wholly different 
domains. The one is instinct proper, the unconscious impulse that 
guides the animal in the marvellous achievements of its industry. 
... It is instinct, and nothing but instinct, that makes a mother 
build a nest for a family she will never know, which counsels a 
supply of food for an unknowable posterity, which steers the dart 
toward the nerve-centre of the prey . . . with a view to keeping 
provisions fresh. . . . But for all of its unbending, unconscious clev- 
erness, pure instinct, all by itself, would leave the insect disarmed 
in its perpetual battle with circumstance. ... A guide is necessary 
to devise, accept, refuse, select, prefer this, ignore that — in a word, 
take advantage of the usables occasion offers. Such a guide the in- 

of poison on the points. The Callicurgus is lost if the spider pricks him, and 
meantime his operation in anaesthesia requires the unfailing precision of the sur- 
geon's knife. What is he to do in a perilous situation that would ruin the composure 
of the coolest human operator? The patient has first to be disarmed and then dealt 
with! And, in fact, there is the stinger of the Callicurgus darting forward from the 
back and driving into the mouth of the Epeiron with minutest precautions and 
untiring persistence! Almost at once the poisonous hooks fold up lifeless and the 
dread prey is powerless to harm. The belly of the Hymenopteron then stretches 
its bow and drives the stinger home just behind the fourth pair of legs, on the 
median line, almost at the juncture of belly and cephalo-thorax. . . . The nerve 
ganglia controlling the movements of the legs are located a little higher than the 
point pricked, but the backward-forward thrust enables the weapon to reach them. 
This second stroke paralyzes the eight legs all at once. . . . First, to safeguard the 
operator, a prick in the mouth, a point terrifyingly armed and to be dreaded more 
than all else! Then, to safeguard the offspring, a second thrust into the nervous 
centres of the thorax, to end all movement!" 
156 ^ Ibid., Ser. i, pp. 165-66; Ser. 4, pp. 65-67. 


sect certainly has and even to a very conspicuous degree. It is the 
second domain of his psychic hfe. In it he is conscious and teachable 
by experience. Not daring to call that rudimentary aptitude intelli- 
gence, a title too exalted for it, I w^ill call it discernment." 

157. Qualitatively (§ 144^), phenomena are virtually the same in 
human beings; but quantitatively, the field of logical behaviour, ex- 
ceedingly limited in the case of animals, becomes very far-reaching 
in mankind. All the same, many many human actions, even today 
. among the most civilized peoples, are performed instinctively, me- 
\ chanically, in pursuance of habit ; and that is more generally observ- 
able still in the past and among less civilized peoples. There are cases 
in which it is apparent that the effectiveness of certain rites is be- 
lieved in instinctively, and not as a logical consequence of the reli- 
gion that practises them (§ 952). Says Fabre: ^ 

"The various instinctive acts of insects are therefore inevitably 
linked together. Because a certain thing has just been done, another 
must unavoidably be done to complete it or prepare the vi^ay for its 
completion [That is the case with many human actions also.], and 
the two acts are so strictly correlated that the performance of the 
first entails the performance of the second, even when by some 
fortuitous circumstance the second may have become not only un- 
seasonable, but at times even contrary to the animal's interests." 

But even in the animal one detects a seed of the logic that is to 
come to such luxuriant flower in the human being. After describing 
how he tricked certain insects that obstinately persisted in useless 
acts, Fabre adds: "But the yellow-winged Sphex does not always let 
himself be fooled by the game of pulling his cricket away. There 
are chosen clans in his tribe, families of brainy wit, that, after a few 
disappointments, perceive the wiles of the trickster and find ways to 
checkmate them. But such revolutionaries, candidates for progress, 
are the small minority. The rest, stubborn conservators of the good 
old-fashioned ways, are the hoi polloi, the majority." 

This remark should be remembered, for the conflict between a 
tendency to combinations, which is responsible for innovations, and 

157 '^ Ibid., Ser. i, pp. 174-77. 


a tendency to permanence in groups of sensations, which promotes 
stability, may put us in the way of explaining many things about 
human societies (Chapter XII). 

158. The formation of human language is no whit less marvel- 
lous than the instinctive conduct of insects. It would be absurd to 
claim that the theory of grammar preceded the practice of speech. 
It certainly followed, and human beings have created most subtle 
grammatical structures without any knowledge of it. 

Take the Greek language as an example. If one chose to go farther 
back to some Indo-European language from which Greek would be 
derived, our contentions would hold a fortiori, because the chance 
of any grammatical abstraction would be less and less probable. We 
cannot imagine that the Greeks one day got together and decided 
what their system of conjugation was to be. Usage alone made such 
a masterpiece of the Greek verb. In Attic Greek there is the aug- 
ment, which is the sign of the past in historical tenses; and, for a 
very subtle nuance, besides the syllabic augment there is the tem- 
poral (quantitative) augment, which consists in a lengthening of 
the initial vowel. The conception of the aorist, and its functions in 
syntax, are inventions that would do credit to the most expert logi- 
cian. The large number of verbal forms and the exactness of their 
functions in syntax constitute a marvellous whole.^ 

158 ^ Albert Dauzat well says, Lm langtte francaise d'atijourd'hui, pp. 238-39: 
"The whole field is today under the dominion of a principle that holds the alle- 
giance of the vast majority of philologists, namely, that linguistic phenomena are 
unconscious. [Another way of expressing what we mean by "non-logical actions."] 
Almost universally accepted in the domain of phonology — transformations in sounds 
have long since ceased to be ascribed to individual caprice — the principle is never- 
theless meeting the same opposition in the field of semantics that [phonetic] laws 
were generally arousing not so long ago. M. Breal [Essai de semantiqtte, p. 311; 
Cust, pp. 279-81] assigns a very definite role to individual volition in the evolu- 
tion of word-meanings. . . . This [Breal's] theory, which would have found prac- 
tically no adversaries fifty years ago, is today rejected with virtual unanimity by 
philologists, who readily subscribe to the axiom stated by V. Henry {Antinomies lin- 
giiistiqiics, p. 78] that 'any explanation of a linguistic phenomenon which to any 
extent whatever assumes exercise of conscious activity on the part of a speaking 
subject must be a priori discarded and held null and void.' " But that is an exag- 
geration. Scientific terminology is nearly always a product of conscious activity, and 
some few terms in ordinary language may have similar origiiis. On the other hand. 


159. In Rome, the general invested with the imperium had to take 
the auspices on the Capitol before he could leave the city. He could 
do that only in Rome. One cannot imagine that that provision had 
originally the political purpose that it eventually acquired.^ "As long 
as the extension of existing imperia depended exclusively upon the 
will of the comitia, no new ones carrying full military authority 
could be established except by taking the auspices on the Capitol — 
consequently by performing an act that lay within urban jurisdic- 
tion. ... To organize another [taking of auspices] in defiance of 
the constitution would have implied transgressing bounds held in 
awe even by the comitia of the sovereign People. No constitutional 
barrier to extraordinary military usurpations held its ground any- 
where near as long as this guarantee that had been found in the 
regulation as to a general's auspices. In the end that regulation also 
lapsed, or rather was circumvented. In later times some piece of land 
or other situated outside of Rome was 'annexed' by a legal fiction to 
the city and taken as though located within the pomerium, and the 
required auspicium was celebrated there." 

Later on Sulla not only abolished the guarantee of the auspices, 
but even rendered it inapplicable by an ordinance whereby the mag- 
istrate was obligated not to assume command till after the expiration 
of his year of service [as a magistrate] — at a time, that is, when 

Breal's objection does not disturb the fact that a large number of phenomena are 
conscious only in appearances, the activity of the subject resolving itself into non- 
logical behaviour of our varieties 2 and especially 4. Darmesteter, La vie des mots, 
pp. 86, 133: "In all such changes [in the meanings of words] one finds, at bottom, 
two concurrent intellectual elements, the one principal, the other secondary. In the 
long run, as the result of an unconscious detour, the mind loses sight of the first and 
thinks only of the second. ... So the mind passes from one idea to quite another 
under cover of one same physiological fact — the word. Now this unconscious devel- 
opment, which shifts the stress from the principal detail to the secondary, is the law, 
no less, of transformadons in the mental world. ... So in spite of the family rela- 
tionships that developments in a language may establish between words, words most 
often lead lives of their own and follow their respecdve destinies all by themselves. 
When human beings speak, they are by no means 'doing etymology.' " Nothing 
could be truer; and that is why people often go astray in trying to infer the mean- 
ing of a word from its etymology or, what is worse, trying to reconstruct the un- 
known history of a remote past on an etymological basis. 
159 -^ Mommsen, Riimisches Staatsrecht, Vol. I, p. 100. 


[being in his proconsular province] he could no longer take the 
urban auspices. Now Sulla, a conservative, obviously had no intention 
of providing for the overthrow of his constitution in that way, any 
more than the older Romans, in establishing the requirement of 
auspices taken in the Urbs, were anticipating attacks upon the con- 
stitution of the Republic. In reality, in their case, we have a non- 
logical action of our 4a type; and in the case of Sulla a non-logical 
action of our ^8 type. 

In the sphere of political economy, certain measures (for example, 
wage-cutting) of business men (entrepreneurs) working under con- 
ditions of free competition are to some extent non-logical actions of 
our 4/^ type, that is, the objective end does not coincide with the 
subjective purpose. On the other hand, if they enjoy a monopoly, the 
same measures (wage-cutting) become logical actions.^ 

160. Another very important difference between human conduct 
and the conduct of animals lies in the fact that we do not observe 
human conduct wholly from the outside as we do in the case of 
animals. Frequently we know the actions of human beings through 
the judgments that people pass upon them, through the impressions 
they make, and in the light of the motives that people are pleased 
to imagine for them and assign as their causes. For that reason, 
actions that would otherwise belong to genera i and 3 make their 
way into 2 and 4. 

Operations in magic when unattended by other actions belong to 
genus 2. The sacrifices of the Greeks and Romans have to be classed 
in the same genus — at least after those peoples lost faith in the real- 
ity of their gods. Hesiod, Opera et dies, vv. 735-39, warns against 
crossing a river without first washing one's hands in it and uttering 
a prayer. That would be an action of genus i. But he adds that the 

159 ^ Pareto, Cotirs, § 719: ". . . while the business man aims at reducing costs 
of production, involuntarily he achieves the further effect of reducing selling prices 
[That is not the case with monopolies.], competition always restoring parity be- 
tween the two prices." And cf. Ibid., §§ 151, 718. Pareto, Mantiale, Chap. V, § 11. 
Ibid., Chap. V, § 74: "So competing enterprises get to a point where they had no in- 
tention of going. Each of them has been looking strictly to profits and thinking of 
the consumer only in so far as he can be exploited; but owing to the successive ad- 
jusmients and readjustments required by competition their combined exertions turn 
out to the advantage of the consumer." 


gods punish anyone who crosses a river without so washing his 
hands. That makes it an action of genus 2. 

This rationalizing procedure is habitual and very wide-spread. 
Hesiod says also, vv. 780-82, that grain should not be sown on the 
thirteenth of a month, but that that day is otherwise very auspicious 
for planting, and he gives many other precepts of the kind. They all 
belong to genus 2. In Rome a soothsayer who had observed signs in 
the heavens was authorized to adjourn the comitia to some other 
day.^ Towards the end of the Republic, when all faith in augural 
science had been lost, that was a logical action, a means of attain- 
ing a desired end. But when people still believed in augury, it was an 
action of genus 4. For the soothsayers who, with the help of the 
gods, were so enabled to forestall some decision that they considered 
harmful to the Roman People, it belonged to our species 4a, as is 
apparent if one consider that in general such actions correspond, 
very roughly to be sure, to the provisions used in our time for avoid- 
ing ill-considered decisions by legislative bodies: requirements of 
two or three consecutive readings, of approvals by two houses, and 
so on. 

Most acts of public policy based on tradition or on presumed mis- 
sions of peoples or individuals belong to genus 4. William I, King 
of Prussia, and Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, both consid- 
ered themselves "men of destiny." But William I thought his mis- 
sion lay in promoting the welfare and greatness of his country, 
Louis Napoleon believed himself destined to achieve the happiness 
of mankind. William's policies were of the 4a type; Napoleon's, of 
the 4/3. 

Human beings as a rule determine their conduct with reference 
to certain general rules (morality, custom, law), which give rise in 
greater or lesser numbers to actions of our 4a and even 4/? vari- 

161. Logical actions are at least in large part results of processes 

160 ^ Cicero, De legibtis, II, 12, 31: "If we are thinking of prerogative, what pre- 
rogative more extreme than to be able to adjourn assembhes and councils called by 
the supreme authorities, the highest magistrates, or to annul their enactments if 
they have already been held? And what more important than diat business in 
course should be postponed if a single augur cries, Alto die!}" 


of reasoning. Non-logical actions originate chiefly in definite psychic 
states, sentiments, subconscious feelings, and the like. It is the prov- 
ince of psychology to investigate such psychic states. Here v^e start 
with them as data of fact, vv^ithout going beyond that. 

162. Thinking of animals, let us assume that the conduct B (I) in 
Figure 2, w^hich is all we are in a position to observe, is connected 
with a hypothetical psychic state A (I). In human beings that psy- 
chic state is revealed not through the conduct 5 (II) alone, but also 
through expressions of sentiments, C, which often develop moral, 

religious, and other similar theo- 

A I — IS ries. The very marked tendency in 

^h (n; human beings to transform non- 

'n^ logical into logical conduct leads 

^\ them to imagine that B is an effect 

\ of the cause C. So a direct rela- 

\ tionship, CB, is assumed, instead 

of the indirect relationship arising 
through the two relations AB, AC. 
Sometimes the relation CB in fact 

^^^^ ^ obtains, but not as often as people 

think. The same sentiment that restrains people from performing 
an act B (relation AB) prompts them to devise a theory C (rela- 
tion AC). A man, for example, has a horror of murder, B, and he 
will not commit murder; but he will say that the gods punish mur- 
derers, and that constitutes a theory, C. 

163. We are thinking not only of qualitative relations (§ 144 ^), 
but of quantitative also. Let us assume, for a moment, that a given 
force impelling a man to perform an act B has an index equivalent 
to 10 and that the man either performs or refrains from performing 
the act B according as the forces tending to restrain him have an 
index greater or smaller than 10. We shall then get the following 
alternatives : 

Case I. The restraining force of the association AB has an index 
greater than 10. In that situation it is strong enough to keep the 


man from performing the act. The association CB, if it exists, is 

Case 2. The restraining force of the association CB, if it exists, has 
an index larger than 10. In such a case, it is strong enough to pre- 
vent the act B, even if the force AB is equivalent to zero. 

Case 3. The force resulting from the association AB has, let us 
say, an index equal to 4; and the force resulting from the association 
CB an index equal to 7. The sum of the indices is 11. The act, there- 
fore, w^ill not be performed. The force resulting from the association 
AB has an index equal to 2, the other retaining its index 7. The 
sum is 9; the act v^^ill be performed. 

Suppose the association AB represents a person's aversion to per- 
forming the act B. AC represents the theory that the gods punish 
persons who commit the act B. Some people w^ill abstain from doing 
B out of mere aversion to it (Case i). Others refrain from it only 
because they fear the punishment of the gods (Case 2). Others still 
will forbear for both reasons (Case 3). 

164. The following propositions are therefore false, because too 
absolute: "A natural disposition to do good is sufficient to restrain 
human beings from doing wrong." "Threat of eternal punishment 
is suflBcient to restrain men from doing wrong." "Morality is inde- 
pendent of religion." "Morality is necessarily dependent on reli- 
gion." \ 

Suppose we say that C is a penalty threatened by law. The same 
sentiment that prompts people to establish the sanction restrains 
them from committing B. Some refrain from B because of their 
aversion to it; others in fear of the penalty C; still others for both 

165. The relationships between A, B, C that we have just consid- 
ered are fundamental, but they are far from being the only ones. 
First of all, the existence of the theory C reacts upon the psychic 
state A and in many many cases tends to re-enforce it. The theory 
consequently influences B, following the line CAB. On the other 
hand, the check B, which keeps people from doing certain things, 



reacts upon the psychic state A and consequently upon the theory 
C, following the line BAC. Then again the influence of C upon B 
influences A and so is carried back upon C. Suppose, for instance, a 
penalty C is considered too severe for a crime B. The infliction of 
such a penalty (C5) modifies the psychic state A, and as a conse- 
quence of the change, the penalty C is superseded by another more 

Change in a psychic state is first disclosed by an increase in cer- 
tain crimes B. The increase in crime modifies the psychic state A, 
and the modification is translated into terms of a change in C. 

Up to a certain point, the rites of worship in a religion may be 
comparable to the conduct B, its theology to the theory C. The two 
things both emanate from a certain psychic state A. 

166. Let us consider certain conduct D (Figure 3), depending 
upon that psychic state, A. The rites of worship, B, do not influence 

D directly, but influence A and consequently 
D. In the same way they influence C and, 
vice versa, C influences B. There can in addi- 
tion be a direct influence CD. The influence 
of the theology C upon A is usually rather 
weak, and consequently its influence upon 
D is also feeble, since the influence CD is it- 
self usually slight. In general, then, we go 
^ Figure ^ ^ ^^^Y ^^^ astray in assuming that a theology, 

C, is the motive of the conduct, D. The prop- 
osition so often met with, "This or that people acts as it does be- 
cause of a certain belief," is rarely true; in fact, it is almost always 
erroneous. The inverse proposition, "People believe as they do be- 
cause of this or that conduct," as a rule contains a larger amount of 
truth; but it is too absolute, and has its modicum of error. Beliefs 
and conduct are not, to be sure, independent; but their correlation 
Hes in their being, as it were, two branches of one same tree (§ 267).^ 

167. Before the invasion of Italy by the gods of Greece, the ancient 
Roman religion did not have a theology, C: it was no more than a 

166 ^ This theme will be amply developed in Chapter XL 


cult, B. But the cult B, reacting upon A, exerted a powerful influence 
on the conduct, D, of the Roman people. Nor is that the whole story. 
The direct relation, BD, when it existed, looks to us moderns mani- 
festly absurd. But the relation BAD may often have been very rea- 
sonable and very beneficial to the Roman people. Any direct influ- 
ence of a theology, C, upon D is in general weaker even than its in- 
fluence upon A. It is therefore a serious mistake to measure the social 
value of a religion strictly by the logical or rational value of its 
theology (§ 14). Certainly, if the theology becomes absurd to the 
point of seriously affecting A, it will for the same reason seriously 
affect D. But that rarely occurs. Only when the psychic state A has 
changed do people notice certain absurdities that previously had 
escaped them altogether. 

These considerations apply to theories of all kinds.^ For example, 
C is the theory of free trade ; D, the concrete adoption of free trade 
by a country; A, a psychic state that is in great part the product of 
individual interests, economic, political, and social, and of the cir- 
cumstances under which people live. Direct relations between C and 
D are generally very tenuous. To work upon C in order to modify 
D leads to insignificant results. But any modification in A may react 
upon C and upon D. D and C will be seen to change simultaneously, 
and a superficial observer may think that D has changed because C 
has changed, whereas closer examination will reveal that D and C 
are not directly correlated, but depend both upon a common 
cause, A. 

168. Theoretical discussions, C, are not, therefore, very serviceable 
directly for modifying D; indirectly they may be effective for modi- 
fying A. But to attain that objective, appeal must be made to senti- 
ments rather than to logic and the results of experience. The situa- 
tion may be stated, inexactly to be sure, because too absolutely, but 
I nevertheless strikingly, by saying that in order to influence people 
thought has to be transformed into sentiment. 

In the case of England, the continuous practice of free trade B 
(Figure 3) over a long period of years has in our day reacted upon 

167 ^Pareto, Manuel, pp. 134-35, 520 (§62). 


the psychic state A (interests, etc.) and intensified it, so increasing 
obstacles in the way of introducing protection. The theory of free 
trade, C, is in no way responsible for that. However, other facts, such 
as growing needs on the part of the Exchequer, are nowadays tend- 
ing to modify A in their turn ; and such modifications may serve to 
change B and so bring protection about. Meantime modifications in 
C will be observable and new theories favourable to protection will 
come into vogue. 

A theory, C, has logical consequences. A certain number of them 
are to be found present in B. Others are absent. That would not be 
the case if B were the direct consequence of C, for if it were, all the 
logical implications of C would appear in B without exception. But 
C and B are simply consequences of a certain psychic state, A. There 
is nothing therefore to require perfect logical correspondence be- 
tween them. We shall always be on the wrong road, accordingly, 
when we imagine that we can infer B from C by establishing that 
correspondence logically. We are obliged, rather, to start with C and 
determine A, and then find a way to infer B from A. In doing that 
very serious difficulties are encountered; and unfortunately they 
have to be overcome before we can hope to attain scientific knowl- 
edge of social phenomena. 

169. We have no direct knowledge of A. What we know is certain 
manifestations of A, such as C and B; and we have to get back from 
them to A. The difficulties are increased by the fact that though B 
is susceptible of exact observation, C is almost always stated in ob- 
scure terms altogether devoid of exactness. 

170. The theory we have been thinking of is a popular theory, or 
at least, a theory held by large numbers of people. The case where 
C is a theory framed by scientists is in some respects similar, yet 
in other respects different. 

Unless the theory C is coldly scientific, C is affected by the psychic 
state of the scientists who frame it. If they belong to the group that 
has been performing the acts, B, their psychic state has — save in the 
very rare case of an individual not given to following the beaten 
path — something in common with the psychic state of the members 

Figure "4 


of the group; and consequently A still influences C. That is all the 
case can have in common with the preceding case. If scientists are 
dealing with the conduct of people belonging to groups entirely 
different from their own — say with some foreign country, or some 
very different civilization, or with historical matters going back to a 
remote past — their psychic state, A' (Figure 4), is not identical with 
A. It may differ now more, now Ic^s, or even in some particular case 
be altogether different. Now it is the 
psychic state that influences C. So A 
may affect C very little, if at all. If we 
ignore all influences from A or A' , we 
get interpretations of the facts, B, that 
are purely theoretical. If C is a strict 
and exact principle and is applied to B 
with faultless logic and without am- 
biguities of any kind, we get scientific 

171. But the class of theories that we are here examining includes 
others. C may be an uncertain principle, lacking in exactness, and 
sometimes even a principle of the experimental type. Furthermore, 
it may be applied to B with illogical reasonings, arguments by anal- 
ogy, appeals to sentiment, nebulous irrelevancies. In such cases we 
get theories of little or no logico-experimental value, though they 
may have a great social value (§14). Such theories are very nu- 
merous, and we shall find them occupying much of our attention.^ 

172. Let us go back to the situation in Figure 3, and to get better 
acquainted with that subject, which is far from being an easy one 
to master, let us put abstractions aside and examine a concrete case. 
In that way we shall be led to follow certain inductions which arise 
spontaneously from the exposition of facts. Then we can go back to 
the general case and continue the study of which we have just 
sketched the initial outlines. 

171 ^ Here we come by induction to many points beyond which we choose not 
to go for the present. We shall resume our advance from them in chapters to fol- 
low, and there devote ourselves specially to many things that are merely sign- 
boarded here. 


There is a very important psychic state that establishes and main- 
tains certain relationships between sensations, or facts, by means of 
other sensations, P, Q, R. . . . Such sensations may be successive, 
and that, probably, is one of the v^^ays in which instinct manifests 
itself in animals. On the other hand they may be simultaneous, or 
at least be considered such; and their union constitutes one of the 
< chief forces in the social equilibrium. 

^l- Let us not give a name to that psychic state, in order, if possible, 

to avoid any temptation to derive the significance of the thing from 
the name we give it (§ 119). Let us continue to designate it simply 
by the letter A, as we have done for a psychic state in general. We 
^ shall have to think of the state not only as static, but also as dynamic. 
It is very important to know how the fundamental element in the 
institutions of a people changes. Case i. It may change but reluc- 
tantly, slowly, showing a marked tendency to keep itself the same. 
Case 2. It may change readily, and to very considerable extents, but 
in different ways, as for instance: Case 2a. The form may change as 
readily as the substance — for a new substance, new forms. The sensa- 
tions P,Q,R . . . may be easily disjoined, whether because the force 
X that unites them is weak, or because, though strong, it succumbs 
to a still stronger counter-force. Case 2/5. Substance changes more 
readily than forms — for a new substance, the old forms! The sen- 
sations P, Q, R . . . are disjoined with difficulty, whether because 
the force X that unites them is the stronger, or because, though weak, 
it does not meet any considerable counter-force. 

The sensations P, Q, R . . . may originate in certain things and 
later on appear to the individual as abstractions of those things, such 
as principles, maxims, precepts, and the like. They constitute an 
aggregate, a group. The permanence of that aggregate, that group, 
will be the subject of long and important investigations on our part.^ 
173. A superficial observer might confuse the Case 2/? with Case 

172 ^ It will develop in Chapter VI, when induction has carried us some distance 
ahead, and we are in a position to replace it with deduction. For tlie present it 
would be premature to deal with the problem as it deserves. 


I (§ 172). But in reality they differ radically. Peoples called con- 
servative may be such now only with respect to forms (Case 2i3), 
now only with respect to substance (Case i). Peoples called formal- 
ist may now preserve both forms and substance (Case i), now only 
forms (Case 2^3). Peoples commonly said to have "fossilized in a 
certain state" correspond to Case i. v 

174. When the unifying force, X, is quite considerable, and the 
force Y — the trend toward innovation — is very weak or non-existent, 
we get the phenomena of instinct in animals, and something like the 
situation in Sparta, a state crystalUzed in its institutions. When X is 
strong, but Y equally strong, and innovations are wrought upon 
substance with due regard to forms, we get a situation like that in 
ancient Rome — the effort is to change institutions, but disturbing 
the associations P, Q, R . . . as little as possible. That can be done 
by allowing the relations P, Q, R . . . to subsist in form. From that 
point of view, the Roman people may be called formalist at a cer- 
tain period in its history, and the same may hold for the English. 
The aversion of those two peoples to disturbing the formal rela- 
tions P, Q, R . . . may even tempt one to call them conservative. 
But if we fix our attention on substance, we see that they do not 
preserve but transform it. Among the ancient Athenians and the 
modern French, X is relatively feeble. It is difficult to assert that Y 
was more vigorous among the Athenians than among the Romans, 
more vigorous among the French than among the English from the 
seventeenth to the nineteenth century. If the effects in question 
manifest themselves in different ways, the difference lies in the 
strength of X rather than in the strength of Y. 

Let us assume that in the case of two peoples Y is identical in both 
and X different in both. To bring about innovations, the people 
among whom X is feeble wipes out the relations P, Q, R . . . and 
replaces them with other relations. The people among whom X is 
strong allows those relations to subsist as far as possible and modi- 
fies the significance of P, Q, R. . . . Furthermore, there will be 
fewer "relics from the past" in the first people than in the second. 


Since X is feeble, there is nothing to hinder abolition of the rela- 
tions P, 0, R . . . now considered useless; but when X is strong, 
those relations will be preserved even if they are considered useless. 

These inductions are obtainable by observing manifestations of 
the psychic state A. As regards Rome we have facts in abundance — 
to begin with, religion. There is now no doubt: (i) that the earliest 
Romans had no mythology, or at best an exceedingly meagre one; 
(2) that the classical mythology of the Romans was nothing but a 
Greek form given to the Roman gods, if not an actual naturalization 
of foreign deities. Ancient Roman religion consisted essentially of 
an association of certain religious practices with the conduct of life — 
it was the perfect type of the P, Q, R . . . associations. Cicero could 
well say ^ that "the whole religion of the Roman people comes down 
to cult and auspices (§ 361), with a supplement of prophecies orig- 
inating in portents and prodigies as interpreted by the Sibyl and the 

175. Even in our day numerous and most variegated types of the 
associations P, Q,R . . . are observable. In his Au pays des Veddas, 
pp. 159-62, Deschamps says that in Ceylon "the astrologer plays a 
part in every act of the native's life. Nothing could be undertaken 
without his counsel; and ... I have often seen myself refused the 
simplest favours because the astrologer had not been consulted as to 
the day and hour auspicious for granting them." When a piece of 
ground is to be cleared or brought under cultivation, the astrologer 
is first consulted, receiving offerings of betel leaves and betel nuts.^ 
"If the forecast is favourable, gifts of the leaves and nuts are repeated 
on a specified day, and an 'auspicious hour' {na\atd) is chosen for 
cutting the first trees and bushes. On the appointed day, the culti- 
vators of the plot selected partake of a repast of cakes, and rice and 
milk, prepared for the occasion. Then they go forth, their faces 

174 '^ De nattira deortim, III, 2, 5. 

175 ^ Bell, Superstitious Ceremonies Connected with the Ctdtivation of Alvi or 
Hill Paddy, quoted by Deschamps, loc. cit. [Paddy is rice. I fail to find any record 
of just this article by H. C. P. Bell, who was secretary of the Royal Society of Ceylon, 
and wrote extensively on the rites of the rice cultivators in that colony during the 
'8o's.— A. L.] 

§176 THE "little gods" OF ROME 97 

turned in the direction designated as propitious by the astrologer. 
If a hzard chirps at the moment of their departure or if they en- 
counter along the way something of evil omen — a person carrying 
dead wood or dangerous weapons, a 'rat-snake' crossing the path, 
a woodpecker — they give up the idea of clearing that particular 
piece of land, or, more likely, the idea of visiting it that day, picking 
another nakata and starting over again. On the other hand, if good 
omens — a milch cow, a woman nursing a child — are encountered, 
they proceed cheerily and in all confidence. Once on the ground, 
an auspicious moment is awaited, then the trees and brush are set 
on fire. Two or three weeks are allowed for the ground to cool, then 
another nakata is set for the final clearing of the land. . . . On a 
na\ata designated by the same astrologer, a man sows a first handful 
of rice as a prelude." Birds and also rain may play havoc with the 
seeding. "To avert such mishaps a \ema or magic brew called nava- 
nilla (nine-herbs?) is made ready. ... If the ks^^ proves ineffec- 
tual, a special kind of oil is distilled for another charm. ... At 
weeding-time a na\ata is sought of the same fortune-teller. When 
the rice-blossoms have faded the ceremony of sprinkling with five 
kinds of milk takes place." They go on in the same way for each of 
the successive operations till the rice is finally harvested and barned." 
176. Similar practices are observable to greater or lesser extents in 
the primitive periods of all peoples.^ Differences are quantitative not 

175 2 In Greece and Rome also conduct was largely governed by oracles, presages, 
and the like. In course of time many such practices became purely formal. Cicero, 
De divinatione, I, 16, 28: "In olden times hardly any business of importance, even 
of a private nature, was transacted without consulting omens, as witness the 'nuptial 
auspices' even of our day, which have lost their old substance and preserve just the 
name {re omissa nomen tantum tenent). Nowadays auspices on important occasions 
are obtained, though somewhat less generally than was once the case, by inspections 
of entrails. In the old days they were commonly sought of birds." 

176 ^ They still endure among half-civilized peoples, such as the Chinese, and 
they have not disappeared even in our western countries. Matignon, Superstition , 
crime et misere en Chine, pp. 4-8, 18-19: "Superstition, as I am about to describe it, 
has nothing to do with religion." Going on, Matignon explains the mysterious entity 
that the Chinese call fong-choue, literally, "wind-and-water": "One might in a gen- 
eral way regard it as a sort of topographical superstition. For the Chinese, any given 
point in the Middle Empire is a centre of forces, of spiritual influences, as to the 
nature of which they have very vague and ill-defined ideas, and which no one 


qualitative. Preller" observes that in Rome parallel with the world 
of the gods was a family of spirits and genii: "Everything that hap- 
pened in nature, everything that was done by human beings from 
birth to death, all the vicissitudes of human life and activity, all 
mutual relationships between citizens, all enterprises . . . were 
under the jurisdiction of these little gods. Indeed they owe their 
existence to nothing but those thousands of social relationships with 
which they are to be identified." ^ Originally they were mere asso- 
ciations of ideas, such as we find in fetishism. They constituted 
groups, and the groups were called divinities or something else of 

understands, but which are all the more respected and feared on that account. 
[Matignon then tries to explain the facts by the beliefs. He does not succeed, be- 
cause the facts are not consequences of the beliefs (logical actions), but the beliefs 
consequences of the facts (non-logical actions)]. The fong-chotte, accordingly, 
seems to be something vague, mysterious, obscure, difficult, not to say impossible, of 
interpretation [As was the case with divination in Greece and Rome]. And never- 
theless, in Chinese eyes, that body of fiction becomes science. [Is, in other words, a 
logical veneer sprinkled lavishly over their non-logical conduct. As regards funer- 
als:] the astrologer must have fixed on a propitious day and especially by long 
and sagacious investigation, have gone into all aspects of the engrossing problem 
of the jong-choue. ... In building a house, the Chinaman must not only consider 
the fong-chotte of his neighbours, but also of his own house. A millstone, a well, 
the junction of two walls or two streets, must not be on a line with the main en- 
trance. . . . That is not all. The jong-chottS may be satisfied with the site and 
alignment of a building; but how about the use to which it is to be put? X builds 
a house for a rice-shop. But it develops that the fong-choue was inclined to favour a 
tea-shop. There is no further doubt. X and his rice business will soon be in the 
hands of the receiver. . . . The jong-choue superstition is exceedingly tenacious 
[Merely because it is an expression of the psychic state A of the Chinese, and 
nothing else]. It is the one that holds out longest against Christianity. And then 
again, what Chinaman, even though considered a good Christian, has altogether 
abandoned his jong-choue?" The situation is a general one. See §§ 1002 f. 
176 - Romische Mythologie, p. 66. 

176 ^ Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung: Sacralwesen, pp. 12-19, gives a 
list of these gods. It must be very incomplete, for we may reasonably assume that 
large numbers of names have failed to come down to us. For some of the gods in 
question see our § 1339. Just a sample here, pp. 12-13: "Potina and Educa, who teach 
the child to eat and drink; Cuba, who protects the child while it is being carried 
from cradle to bed; Ossipago, 'who hardens and strengthens the bones of little 
children'; Carna, who strengthens the muscles; Levana, 'who lifts the child from the 
floor'; Statanus, Statilinus, and the goddess Statina, who teach the child to stand 
upright; Abeona and Adeona, who hold him up when he first tries to walk; 
Farimus and Fabulinus, who help him to talk." Marquardt goes on to list the 
divinities protecting adolescence, matrimony, and other various circumstances of 
life, and he adds, p. 15: "The business of the gods just listed was to protect persons; 


the sort. Pliny soundly remarks that the god population was larger 
than the population of men.* When the tendency to give a coating 
of logic to non-logical conduct developed, people tried to explain 
why certain acts were associated with certain other acts. It was then 
that the rites of the cult were referred to great numbers of gods, or 
taken as manifestations of a worship of natural forces or abstrac- 
tions. In reality we have the same situation here as in § 175. The 
psychic state of the Romans A (Figure 2) gave rise, through certain 
associations of ideas and acts, to the rites B. Later on, or even simul- 
taneously in some instances, the same psychic state expressed itself 
through the worship C of abstractions, natural forces, attributes of 
certain divinities, and so on. Then, from the simultaneous existence 
of B and C came the inference, in most cases mistaken, that B was a 
consequence of C. 

but there was a whole series of other gods who watched over the manifold activities 
of men and the scenes of such activities." Marquardt is mistaken in asserting, p. 18, 
that "originally at least, as Ambrosch has shown [Ueber die Religionsbiicher der 
Romer, rem. 121], the thousands of names registered in the itidigitameiita [ritual 
catalogues and calendars] were mere designations for the various functions (potes- 
tates) of relatively few divinities." That is the old abstraction idea. The proofs 
adduced for it are inadequate. They are stated by Marquardt as follows, pp. 18-19: 
"i. Indigitare meant to offer a prayer to one or more divinities, not in general 
terms but with specific reference to the divine capacities of which help was asked. 
The god was addressed several times, each time one attribute or another being added 
to his name." The various attributes mentioned corresponded at times to a number 
of gods who had been fused into a single personality. At other times they may 
have been different aspects of the same god. But that does not prove that Potina, 
Educa, Cuba, and so on, were abstract capacities of one same divine person. "2. In 
the second place, pontifical law forbade offering one victim to two gods at the same 
time." M. Brissaud, Marquardt's French translator, himself shows that that argu- 
ment is baseless, Le ctdte chez les Romains, Vol. I, p. 24: "There has been no doubt 
either that some of the names listed were surnames of well-known gods." The fact 
that some gods had surnames does not prove that all the names catalogued in the 
indigitamenta were surnames, and much less, as Marquardt suggests in a note, p. 
18, that they "represented the various attributes of divine Providence." Otherwise 
one would have to conclude that the various surnames of the Roman Emperors 
represented various attributes of a single personality. 

176 ^Historia naturalis, II, 5, 3 (7) (Bostock-Riley, Vol. I, p. 21): "Wherefore 
the population of celestials can be seen to be greater than the population of mor- 
tals, since individuals make gods for themselves, each one his own {totidem), adopt- 
ing Junos and genii; and peoples [abroad] take certain animals as gods, and even 
obscene things and things that it is not the part of decency to mention, swearing by 
smelly onions, garlics, and the like." 


177. The view that acts of cult are consequences of a worship of 
abstractions, whether considered as "natural forces" or otherwise, is 
the least acceptable of all and must be absolutely rejected (§§ 158, 
996) / Proofs without end go to show that human beings in general 
proceed from the concrete to the abstract, and not from the abstract 
to the concrete. The capacity for abstraction develops with civiliza- 
tion; it is very rudimentary among primitive peoples. Theories that 
assume it as fully developed in the early stages of human society fall 
under grave suspicion of error. The ancient Romans, a people still 
uncivilized, could not have had a very highly developed capacity 
for abstraction, as would have been necessary if they were to per- 
ceive in every concrete fact, sometimes an altogether insignificant 
fact, a manifestation of some natural power. 

Had such a capacity for abstraction existed, it would have left 
some trace in language. In the beginning, probably, the Greeks did 
not possess it in any higher degree than the Romans. But they soon 
acquired it and brought it to remarkable development; and abstrac- 
tion has left a very definite imprint on their language. Using the 
article, they are able to turn an adjective, a participle, a whole sen- 
tence, into a substantive. The Latins had no article. They could not 
have availed themselves of that device. But they would certainly 
have found some other had they felt the need of doing so. On the 
contrary, it is well known that the capacity for using adjectives sub- 
stantively is more limited in Latin than in Greek or even in French.^ 

177 ^ We cannot accept what Marquardt says. Op. cit., pp. 6-7: "The gods of the 
Romans were mere abstractions. In them they worshipped those forces of nature to 
which the human being feels himself at all times subject, but which he can manage 
to control by scrupulous observance of the altogether external prescriptions laid 
down by the state for honouring the gods." The terms have to be inverted. To as- 
sure success in their undertakings the Romans meticulously observed certain rules 
which, spontaneous at first, eventually came to be used by the state. When, in course 
of time, people wondered how the rules arose, they imagined they saw forces of 
nature worshipped in them. Marquardt himself, for that matter, stresses the pre- 
ponderant importance of the material acts and the scant importance of the abstrac- 
tions, p. 7: "Religious practice required material paraphernalia of the simplest sort; 
but the rites themselves bristled with difficulties and complicadons. The slightest 
irregularity in a ceremony deprived it of all effectiveness." 

177 ^ Antoine, Syntaxe de la langiie latine, p. 125: "The capacity for using ad- 
jectives substantively is much more resti'icted in Latin than in Greek and even than 


§177 ^^^ "little gods" of rome ioi 

Probably there is some exaggeration in what St. Augustine says 
as to the multitude of Roman "gods"; but making all due allow- 
ances for overstatement, there are still plenty left who seem to have 
been created for the sole purpose of accounting logically for the 
association of certain acts with certain other acts.^ 

in French. Latin avoids the substantive even when it is available and tends to re- 
place it with a paraphrase; for example, 'hearers': animi eorum qui audiunt; instead 
of auditorutn. For the adjective to be turned into a substantive, it must result dis- 
tinctly from the arrangement of the words in a sentence and from the sentence as a 
whole that the adjective designates not the quality, but a definite person or thing 
possessing the quality." That is the exact opposite of the process which is alleged to 
have taken place in the little gods considered as qualifying abstractions. Riemann- 
Goelzer, Grammaire comparee du grec et du latin, p. 741, note: "In the beginning 
the adjective was not distinct from the substantive . . . the substantive derived 
from the adjective: before coming to substance, people first saw an object only in 
its modes, in its apparent and striking attributes: a C,uov was a 'living thing,' an 
a^iiftial was a 'thing endowed with life.' Only at a comparatively late date, in an 
advanced state of civilization when the mind had become capable of conceiving of 
the object independently of its attributes, were substantives distinguished from 
adjectives." We cannot, therefore, assume the contrary: namely, that abstract beings, 
such as Providence, were first conceived, and that the modes whereby they mani- 
fested themselves were imagined later. Observation shows that people went from 
modes to beings — beings most often imaginary. 

177 ^ De civitate Dei, VI, 9: "If a man assigned two nurses to a child, the one 
just for giving him his food, the other his drink, the way two goddesses Educa and 
Potina were appointed to those offices, would we not say that he was mad and 
that in his own house he was acting like a clown? Some maintain that Liber is 
derived from liberare: quod mares in coeundo per eius beneficium emissis seminibus 
liberentur; and that Libera, whom they also say is Venus, performs the same ser- 
vice for women: quod et ipsas perhibeant setnina emittere, and therefore the same 
male organ is set up in the temples to Liber, and the female likewise to Libera. 
. . . When the male unites with the female, the god Jugatinus presides. Be it so. 
But the bride has to be taken to the groom's house, and that is the business of the 
god Domiducus. There is the god Domitius to see that she stays there; and the 
goddess Maturna that she abide with her husband. What more is needed? Mercy, I 
pray, on decency! Let concupiscence of flesh and blood do the rest under the secret 
tutelage of modesty! Why crowd the bedchamber with a throng of gods, when even 
the 'best men' [paranymphs] have seen fit to withdraw? And yet it is so filled not 
that the thought of their presence may inspire higher regard for chastity, but to the 
end that through their concert the maiden, afraid as befits the weakness of her 
sex of what is in store, may be deprived of her maidenhood without mishap. And 
that is why the goddess Verginensis is there, and the father-god Subigo, and the 
mother-goddess Prema, and the goddess Pertunda, and Venus, and Priapus. And why 
all that? If the groom needed the help of the gods in everything he did, would not 
one of the gods or one of the goddesses be enough? Was not Venus enough all by 
herself? She was already there, summoned, they say, because without her influence a 


St. Augustine, loc. cit., says that Varro, speaking of the concep- 
tion of man, gives a Hst of the gods. He begins with Janus; and, 
reviewing in succession all the divinities that take care of a man, 
step by step, down to his extreme old age, he closes with the goddess 
Nenia, who is naught but the mournful litany chanted at funerals 
of the aged. He enumerates furthermore divinities who were not 
concerned with a man's person directly, but rather with the things 
he uses, such as food, clothing, and the like. 

178. Gaston Boissier says in this connexion : ^ "What first strikes 
one is the little life there is in these gods. No one has gone to the 
trouble of making legends about them. They have no history. All 
that is known of them is that they have to be worshipped at a given 
moment and that, at that time, they can be of use. The moment 
gone, they are forgotten. They do not have real names. The names 
they are given do not designate them in themselves, but merely the 
functions which they fulfil." 

The facts are exact, the statement of them slightly erroneous, be- 
cause Boissier is considering them from the standpoint of logical 
conduct. Not only did the gods in question have very little life — they 
had none at all. Once upon a time they were mere associations of acts 
and ideas. Only at a date relatively recent did they get to be gods 
(§ 995). "All that is known of them" is the little that need be known 
for such associations of acts and ideas. When it is said that they have 

maid cannot cease to be a maid. . . . And, forsooth, if the goddess Verginensis is 
there that the maid's girdle be loosed; if the god Subigo is there ut viro sttbigatur; if 
the goddess Prema is there, ttt subacta ne se commoveat comprimatur — what, pray, is 
the goddess Pertunda doing there? Shame on her! Out with her! Let the groom do 
something himself, I say! Valde inhonestum est ut quod vacatur ilia (the thing that 
takes the name from her) impleat quisquam nisi ille! But that is perhaps tolerated 
because she is said to be a goddess not a god. For if the deity were believed a male and 
called Pertundus, out of respect for his bride the groom would cry for help against 
him in louder voice than woman in childbirth against Sylvanus. Sed quid hoc dicam, 
cum ibi sit et Priapus nimius masculus, super cuius immanissimum et turpisstmum 
jascinum sedere nova nupta iubebatur more honestissimo et religiosissimo matro- 
narum?" St. Augustine is right, with plenty to spare, if such acts are to be judged 
from the logical standpoint; but he does not observe that they were originally non- 
logical acts, mechanical formalities, which eventually found their place among cere- 
monies of divine worship. 

178 '^ La religion romaine. Vol. I, p. 5. 


to be "worshipped" at certain moments, a new name is being given 
to an old concept. One might better say that they were "invoked"; or 
better yet, that certain words were brought into play. When a person 
pronounces the number 2 (§ 182) to keep a scorpion from stinging, 
will anybody claim that he is worshipping the number 2 or invoking 
it? Are we to be surprised that the number 2 has no legend, no 
history ? 

179. In the Odyssey, X, vv. 304-05, Hermes gives Ulysses a plant to 
protect him from the enchantments of Circe — "black at the root, 
like milk in the flower. The gods call it moly. Difficult it is for 
mortals to tear from the ground, but the gods can do all things." 

Here we have a non-logical action of the pure type. There can be 
no question of an operation in magic whereby a god is constrained to 
act. To the contrary, a god gives the plant to a mortal. No reason is 
adduced to explain the working of the plant. Now let us imagine 
that we were dealing not with a poetic fiction but with a real plant 
used for a real purpose. An association of ideas would arise between 
the plant and Hermes, and no end of logical explanations would be 
devised for it. The plant would be regarded as a means for con- 
straining Hermes to action — and that really would be magic — or as 
a means of invoking Hermes, or as a form of Hermes or one of his 
names, or as a means of paying homage to "forces of nature." Homer 
designates the plant by the words <pdp(iaxov kadT^ov, which might be 
translated "healing remedy." Is it not evident, one might argue, that 
there is a resort to natural forces to counteract the pernicious effects 
of a poison? And so on to all the rank tanglewood of notions that 
might be read into Homer's story ! ^ 

179 ^ The idea is not altogether hypothetical. That blessed weed has a whole 
literature all its own! Eustathius, Commentarii ad Homeri Odysseam, Vol. I, p. 
381, offers us our choice between two interpretations. The one is mythological. 
The giant Pikolous, in flight after his battle with Zeus, landed on Circe's island 
and attacked her. The Sun rushed to the rescue of his daughter and slew the giant. 
From the blood that was spilled on the ground there sprouted a plant which was 
named /iwAv after the terrible fight (fiu/iog) the giant had offered. The blossom 
is milk-white because of the bright sun; and the root black because the giant's 
blood was black, or because of Circe's terror. Hephestion tells more or less the same 

If that interpretation is not to your liking, Eustathius has another ready — alle- 


180. The human being has such a weakness for adding logical de- 
t> j velopments to non-logical behaviour that anything can serve as an 
excuse for him to turn to that favourite occupation. Associations of 
ideas and acts vi^ere probably as abundant at one time in Greece as 
they were in Rome; but in Greece most of them disappeared, and 
sooner than was the case in Rome. Greek anthropomorphism trans- 
formed simple associations of ideas and acts into attributes of gods. 

gorical, this time [Op. cit., loc. cit.] : fiu?.v is education; the root is black, to sym- 
bolize ignorance; the flowers milk-white, to symbolize the splendours of knowl- 
edge. The plant is difficult to pull up because learning is an arduous achievement. 
Now all we need is that some pupil of Max Miiller shall bob up and tell us that 
that plant with the black root and the white blossoms, which mortals are unable 
to pull up, and which has beneficent effects, is the Sun, which rises from the dark- 
ness of the night, is brilliantly luminous, cannot be disturbed by any human act, 
and gives life to the earth. 

Pliny, Historia naturalis, XXV, 8 (4) (Bostock-Riley, Vol. V, pp. 87-88): "Most 
celebrated of plants, according to Homer, is the one that he believes was named 
moly [Allium magicum, "witch-garlic," according to Littre, in the notes to his 
translation of Pliny] by the gods themselves, the discovery of which he credits 
to Mercury and which he represents as efficacious against deadly poisons [Bos- 
tock-Riley: "Against the most potent spells of sorcery"]. It is said that a plant 
of that name still grows today about Lake Pheneus and at Cyllene in 
Arcady. It is like the plant mentioned by Homer. It has a round black root, 
about the size of an onion, with leaves like the squill. It is hard to pull up. [Bos- 
tock-Riley: "There is no difficulty experienced in taking it up"]. Greek writers 
say its blossom is yellow, but Homer describes it as pure white. I once met a 
physician whose hobby was botany, and he told me that the 'moly' also grew in Italy; 
and some few days later he brought me a specimen from Campania that he had 
pulled up with great difficulty from a rocky soil. The root was thirty feet long; and 
that was not the whole of it, for it had broken off." Theophrastus, Historia 
plantarum, IX, 15, 7 (Hort, Vol. II, pp. 294-95): "The moly is found at Pheneus 
and in the Cyllene region. They also say that it is like the plant Homer mentions. 
It has a round root, like an onion. The leaves are like the squill. It is used as an 
antidote and in magic rites. It is not as hard to pull up as Homer says." All of 
these writers take Homer's fiuXv for a real plant. [Littre's note identifying the moly 
as "witch-garlic" is not his own but derives from Antoine Laurent Fee, biographer 
of Linnaeus, who edited Pliny's botany for the French translation of Pliny that was 
published in 1826 by Francois Etienne Ajasson de Grandsagne. — A. L.] 

In the Middle Ages the mandrake enjoyed a very considerable prestige. Mercury 
has vanished, but Satan is on hand to replace him. O'Reilly, Les deux proces de con- 
damnation de Jeanne d'Arc, Vol. II, pp. 164-65: "Jeanne was in the habit of carry- 
ing a mandrake on her person, hoping thereby to procure fortune and riches in 
this world. She believed, in fact, that the mandrake had the virtue of bringing 
good fortune. Q. What have you to say [about the charge] as to the mandrake? 
A. That is false, absolutely. (Abstract of examinations relative to Charge 7): Thurs- 


§l82 MAGIC 105 

Says Boissier:^ "Other countries no doubt felt the need of putting 
the principal acts of life under divine protection, but ordinarily for 
such purposes gods well known, powerful, tried and tested of long 
experience, were chosen, that there might be no doubt as to their 
efficacy. In Greece the great Athena or the wise Hermes was called 
upon that a child might grow up competent and wise. In Rome 
there was a preference for special gods, created for particular pur- 
poses and used for no others." The facts are exact, but the explana- 
tion is altogether wrong, and again because Boissier is working from 
the standpoint of logical conduct. His explanation is like an explana- 
tion one might make of the declensions in Latin grammar: "Other 
countries no doubt felt the need of distinguishing the functions of 
substantive and adjective in a sentence, but ordinarily they chose 
prepositions for that purpose." No, peoples did not choose their gods, 
any more than they chose the grammatical forms of their languages, j 
The Athenians never came to any decision in the matter of placing 
their children under the protection of Hermes and Athena, any 
more than the Romans after mature reflection chose Vaticanus, 
Fabulinus, Educa, and Potina for that purpose. 

181. It may be that what we see in Greece is merely a stage, some- 
what more advanced than the one we find in Rome, in the evolution \ 
from the concrete to the abstract, from the non-logical to the logical. 
It may also be that the evolution was different in the two countries. 
That point we cannot determine with certainty for lack of docu- 
ments. In any event — and that is the important thing for the study 
in which we are engaged — the stages of evolution in Greece and in 
Rome in historical times were different. 

182. In virtue of a most interesting persistence of associations of 
ideas and acts, words seem to possess some mysterious power over 

day, March i. Questioned as to what she did with her mandrake, she answered 
that she had never had one, that she had heard that there was one near her house, 
without having seen it. It was, she had been told, a dangerous and wicked thing 
to keep. She did not know what it might be used for. Questioned as to the place 
where the mandrake of which she had heard was, she answered that she had 
heard it was on die ground near a tree, but she did not know where. She had 
heard that it was under a walnut-tree." 
180 ^ Zv« religion romaine. Vol. I, p. 4. 


things/ Even as late as the day of PHny the NaturaUst, one could 
still write : ^ "With regard to remedies derived from human beings 
there is a very important question that remains unsettled: Do magic 
words, charms, and incantations have any power ? If so, it has to be 
ascribed to the human being. Individually, one by one, our wisest 
minds have no faith in such things ; but in the mass, in their everyday 
lives, people believe in them unconsciously.^ [Pliny is an excellent 
observer here, describing a non-logical action beautifully.] In truth it 
seems to do no good to sacrifice victims and impossible properly to 
consult the gods without chants of prayer.* The words that are used, 
moreover, are of different kinds, some serving for entreaty, others for 
averting evil, others for commendation.^ We see that our supreme 

182 ^ Here we come by induction upon a matter that will be studied deductively 
and at length in Chapter VI — and we shall meet it in other places also. Other similar 
cases, which we need not specify, will occur in this present chapter. Just here we are 
exploring the material before us, now in one direction, now in another. In chapters 
to follow we shall complete investigations that are merely labelled here for future 

182 -Historia naturalis, XXVIII, 2 (3) (Bostock-Riley, Vol. V, pp. 278-80). This 
quotation will be of use to us elsewhere. We transcribe it therefore somewhat fully. 
[Translations of this passage present wide differences. I note in brackets important 
variations between Pareto's version and that of Bostock-Riley. — A. L.] 

182 ^ The Latin reads: "//; tiniversum vero omnibus horis credit vita, nee sentit. 
Dalechamps paraphrases (Leyden, 1669, Vol. Ill, p. 161): Credit vulgi opinio 
valere verba nee certa cognitione et rerum sensu id persiiasimi habet." Cicero too 
bars any rational process. De divinatione, I, 3, 3: "And the ancients, in my judg- 
ment, established such practices rather under admonition of experience than at the 
dictates of reason." Cf. § 296^. 

182 * The Latin reads: "Quippe victimas caedi sine precatione non videtur referre 
nee deos rite consuli." The difficulty lies in the verb referre. Gronov well para- 
phrases (Leyden, 1669, Vol. Ill, p. 798) : " 'Sine precatione non videtur referre [Id 
est, nihil iuvare putatur, nihil prodesse vulgo creditur} caedi victimas, nee videtur 
deos rite consuli.' Quo significat necessario preces adhibendas." [Bostock-Riley follow 
Gronov: "It is the general belief that without a general form of prayer it would 
be useless to immolate a victim." — A. L.] 

182 ^Text: "Praeterea alia sunt verba impetritis, alia depulsoriis, alia commenta- 
tionis [^commentationis for cot7imendationis^." Impetritum is a technical term of 
augury and designates a request made of the gods according to ritual. Cicero, De 
divinatione, II, 15, 35: "How comes it that a person desiring to ask an omen of 
the gods (impetrire) sacrifices a victim appropriate to his need (rebus suis)?" Vale- 
rius Maximus, De dictis factisque memorabilibus, I, i, i : "Our forefathers provided 
that fixed and solemn ceremonies should be entrusted (explicari voluerunt) to the 
learning of pontiffs, assurances of success {bene gerendarum rerum auctoritates) 


magistrates pray with specified words. And in order that no word be 
omitted or uttered out of its proper place, a prompter accompanies 
from the ritual, another person repeats the words, another preserves 
'silence,' and a flutist plays so that nothing else may be heard. The 
two following facts are deservedly memorable. Whenever a prayer 
has been interrupted by an invocation or been badly recited, forth- 
with, without hands being laid to the victim, the top of the liver, or 
else the heart, has been found either missing or double. Still extant, 
as a revered example, is the formula with which the Decii, father and 
son, uttered their vows,^ and we have the prayer uttered by the 
Vestal Tuccia when, accused of incest, she carried water in a sieve, 
in the Roman year 609. A man and a woman from Greece, or from 
some other country with which we were at war, were once buried 
alive in the Forum Boarium, and such a thing has been seen even in 
our time. If one but read the sacred prayer that the head of the 
College of the Quindecemviri is wont to recite ["on such occasions" 
— Bostock-Riley], one will bear witness to the power of the prayer 
as demonstrated by the eight hundred and thirty years of our con- 
tinued prosperity [Bostock-Riley: "by the experience of eight hun- 
dred"]. We believe in our day that with a certain prayer our Vestals 
can arrest the flight of fugitive slaves who have not yet crossed the 
boundaries of Rome. Once that is granted, once we concede that the 
gods answer certain prayers or allow themselves to be moved by such 
words, we have to grant all the rest." ^ 
Going on, loc. cit., 5(3), Pliny appeals to conscience, not to rea- 

to the observation of augurs, prophecy to the books of the soothsayers of Apollo, 
and exorcisms of unfavourable omens {portentonim deptilsiones) to the lore of the 
Etruscans. By ancient custom, divine influences are invoked, in case of a commenda- 
tion through a prayer; when something is requested, through a vow; when a 
favour is to be paid for, by a thanksgiving {gratitlatione); when information is 
sought either of entrails or of lots, through a petition {impetrito, that is, by an 
observation of omens); when a solemn rite is called for {cum solemni ritu pera- 
gendum) by a sacrifice, wherewith also the significance of portents and lightning 
bolts is carefully observed." 

182 ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, VIII, 9, 6-8; X, 28, 14-18. 

182 ^ The Latin reads: "Confitendtim sit de tota coniectione." Gronov paraphrases 
(Leyden, 1669, Vol. Ill, p. 798): "Perinde est ac si dixisset: de tota lite, de tota 
quaestione (we have to surrender "on the whole issue")." 


son, that is, he emphasizes, and very soundly, the non-logical char- 
acter of the acts in question: "I would appeal, too, for confirmation 
on this subject, to the intimate experience of the individual [Bostock- 
Riley translation]. . . . Why do we wish each other a happy new 
year on the first day of each year ? Why do we select men with pro- 
pitious names to lead the victims in public sacrifices ? . . . Why do 
we believe that odd numbers are more effective than others ^ — a 
thing [Bostock-Riley] that is particularly observed with reference 
to the critical days in fever. . . . Attains [Philometor] avers that if 
one pronounces the number duo ^ at sight of a scorpion, the scorpion 
stops and does not sting." ^° 

183. These actions, Jn which words act upon things, belong to 

182 ^ See §§ 960 f. for just a titbit from the endless amount of nonsense connected 
with numbers. Note Pliny's effort to justify a non-logical fancy — the influence of a 
day on a fever — by logic. 

182 ^ Such data are abundant. For example, Thiers, Traite des superstitions, I, 6, 
2 (Avignon, Vol. I, p. 415; Amsterdam, Vol. I, p. loi) : "To stop a snake by the fol- 
lowing conjuration (Mizauld, Centuriae, II, no. 93): 'I abjure thee by Him who 
created thee to stop, and if thou dost not, I curse thee with the curse whereby the 
Lord God did exterminate thee.' " It is evident that the basic fact in the situation 
is the feeling that it is possible to act on certain animals by means of certain definite 
words (element rt in § 798) ; the secondary fact is in the words themselves (element 
^ in § 798). The basic fact belongs to a very populous class of facts comprising the 
sentiments which induce himian beings to believe that things can be influenced by 
means of words (genus I-y of § 888). It is interesting that though Thiers considers 
certain superstitions absurd, he does not think of them all that way (Avignon, Vol. 
I, Preface, pp. viii-ix [Amsterdam, Vol. I, p. ii, publisher's note Au lecteur, quot- 
ing Thiers to the same general effect] ) : "I have quoted superstitions entire when I 
felt that there could be no harm in doing so and when it seemed in a way neces- 
sary not to abbreviate them if they were to be correctly understood. But I have 
often used dots and etc.'s for certain words, letters, signs, and other things, with 
which they have to be equipped in order to produce the effects desired of them, 
because I was afraid of inspiring evil in my effort to combat it." 

182 ^° Cicero, De divinatione , I, 45, 102: "The Pythagoreans noted the words 
not only of gods but also of men, calling such things 'omens.' And our forefathers 
thought words very important, and began everything they did by uttering the 
formula 'May it be good, fortunate, propitious, successful.' At ceremonies conducted 
in public there was always the request for silence {faverent hngtiis), and proclama- 
tions of religious festivals contained an injunction of abstinence from quarrels and 
brawls. When a colony was receiving the lustration from its head, an army from 
its general, the People from the Censor, the individuals who led the victims to 
sacrifice had to have auspicious names; and so in enlisting men for the army the 
consuls made sure that the first soldier taken had a good name." 


§184 MAGIC 109 

that class of operations which ordinary language more or less vaguely 
designates as magic. In the extreme type, certain words or acts, by 
some unknown virtue, have the power to produce certain effects. 
Next a first coating of logic explains that power as due to the inter- 

. \ position of higher beings, of deities. Going on in that direction we 
finally get to another extreme where the action is logical through- 

' out — the mediaeval belief, for instance, that by selling his soul to 
the Devil a human being could acquire the power to harm people. 
When a person interested strictly in logical actions happens on 

' phenomena of the kind just mentioned, he looks at them contemptu- 

I ously as pathological states of mind, and goes his way without 
further thought of them. But anyone aware of the important part 
non-logical behaviour plays in human society must examine them 
with great care.^ 

184. Let us suppose that the only cases known to us showed that 
success in operations in magic depended on the activity of the Devil. 
Then we might accept the logical interpretation and say, "Men be- 
lieve in the efficacy of magic because they believe in the Devil." That 
inference would not be substantially modified by our discovery of 
other cases where some other divinity functioned in place of the 
Devil. But it collapses the moment we meet cases that are absolutely 
independent of any sort of divine collaboration whatsoever. It is then 
apparent that the essential element in such phenomena is the non- 
logical action that associates certain words, invocations, practices, 
with certain desired effects; and that the presence of gods, demons, 
spirits, and so on is nothing but a logical form that is given to those 

The substance remaining intact, several forms may coexist in one 
individual without his knowing just what share belongs to each. The 
witch in Theocritus, Idyllia, II, vv. 14-17, relies both upon the con- 

183 ^ In this, as in other cases, induction has led us to the threshold of an investi- 
gation that we shall have to prosecute at length hereafter. Here we shall still go ' 
groping along trying to find some road that will take us to our destination — 
knowledge of the nature and forms of human societies. 

184 1 Here again we get one of the many situations considered in § 162. The 
logical form serves to connect C with B. 


tributions of gods and upon the efficacy of magic, without distin- 
guishing very clearly just how the two powers are to function. She 
beseeches Hecate to make the philtres she is preparing deadlier than 
the potions of Circe, or Medea, or the golden-haired Perimede. Had 
she relied on Hecate alone, it would have been simpler for her to ask 
the goddess directly for results that she hoped to get from the phil- 
tres. When she repeats the refrain "Wry-neck, wry-neck (Ivyri, a 
magic bird), drag this man to my dwelling!" she is evidently en- 
visaging some occult relationship between the bird and the effect 
she desires.^ 

For countless ages people have believed in such nonsense in one 
form or another; and there are some who take such things seriously 
even in our day. Only, for the past two or three hundred years there 
has been an increase in the number of people who laugh at them as 
Lucian did. But the vogue of spiritualism, telepathy, Christian Sci- 
ence (§ 1695^), and what not, is enough to show what enormous 
power these sentiments and others like them still have today.' 

184 ^ Samples of the kind are available for all peoples and in any quantity de- 
sired — one has only the embarrassment of choice. The charms imparted by Cato 
seem to have nothing whatever to do with gods: they funcdon all by themselves. 
De re riistica, 160: "In cases of sprain, a cure may be obtained by the following 
charm. Take a green stick four or five feet long. Split it in two down the middle, 
and have two men hold [the two pieces] at [your] hips. Then begin to chant: 
In alio s.j. motas vaeta daries dardaries astataries dissunapiter, and keep on till ["the 
free ends" (Harrison)] come together [in front of you]. Brandish a knife (ferrum) 
in the air over them. Take them in your hand at the point where they touch on 
coming together and cut them off, right and left. Bind [the pieces] to the sprain or 
fracture and it will heal." Pliny mentions this magic formula given by Cato and 
adds others; Historia naturalis, XXVIII, 4 (2) (Bostock-Riley, Vol. V, p. 283): 
"Cato has handed down to us a magic cure for sprained limbs, and M. Varro 
one for gout. They say that Caesar, the dictator, after a serious accident in a car- 
riage, was accustomed, before taking his seat in one, to repeat a rigmarole three 
times to make sure of a safe ride, and we know that many people nowadays do 
the same." 

184 ^Lucian, Philopseudes (Lover of Lies), 14-15 (Harmon, Vol. Ill, p. 343). 
A hyperborean magician summons a certain Chrysis to do the pleasure of her 
admirer, Glaucias. " 'At length die hyperborean moulded a clay Eros, and ordered 
it to go and fetch Chrysis. Off went the image, and before long there was a knock 
at the door, and there stood Chrysis! She came in and threw her arms about 
Glaucias's neck. You would have said she was dying for love of him; and she stayed 


185. "Your ox would not die unless you had an evil neighbour," 
says Hesiod {Opera et dies, v. 348); but he does not explain how 
that all happens. The Laws of the XII Tables deal with the "man 
who shall bewitch the crops" ^ and with the "man who shall chant a 
curse" without explaining exactly what was involved in those oper- 
ations. That type of non-logical action has also come down across 
the ages and is met with in our day in the use of amulets. In the 
country about Naples hosts of people wear coral horns on their 
watch-chains to ward off the evil eye. Many gamblers carry amulets 
and go through certain motions considered helpful to winning." 

186. Suppose we confine ourselves to just one of these countless 
non-logical actions — to rites relating to the causation or prevention 
of storms, and to the destruction or protection of crops. And to avoid 
any bewilderment resulting from examples chosen at random here 
and there and brought together artificially, suppose we ignore any- 
thing pertaining to countries foreign to the Graeco-Roman world. 
That will enable us to keep to one phenomenon in its ramifications 
in our Western countries, with some very few allusions to data more 

on till at last we heard the cocks crowing. Away flew the Moon to Heaven, Hecate 
disappeared underground, all the apparitions vanished, and we saw Chrysis out 
of the house just about dawn. — Now, Tychiades, if you had seen that, it would 
have been enough to convince you that there was something in incantations.' 'Ex- 
actly,' I replied. 'If I had seen it, I should have been convinced: as it is, you must 
bear with me if I have not your eyes for the miraculous. But as to Chrysis, I 
know her for a most inflammable [and not very fastidious] lady. I do not see 
what occasion there was for the clay ambassador, and the Moon, no less, or for 
a wizard all the way from the land of the hyperboreans! Why, Chrysis would go 
that distance herself for the sum of twenty shillings. It is a form of incantation that 
she cannot resist. She is the exact opposite of an apparition. Apparitions, you tell 
me, take flight at the clash of brass or iron, whereas if Chrysis hears the chink of 
silver, she flies to the spot.' " (Fowler translation.) 

185 ^ The text is given in Pliny, Historia nattiralis, XXVIII, 4 (2) : "Qui frtiges 
excantassit . . . Qui malum carmen incantassit . . ." See also Seneca, Natttrales 
quaestiones, IV, 6-7, and our § 194. 

185 ^ Even nowadays love-philtres are still concocted by processes not materially 
different from the methods used of old. A court decision handed down at Lucera 
and examined by Attorney Vittorio Pasotti in the Monitore dei Tribiinali, Milan, 
Aug. 9, 1913, recites that three women took human bones from a cemetery for 
the purpose of compounding a philtre that would induce a man to marry a certain 
woman. [From 1916 ed.] 


remotely sought.^ The method we adopt for the group of facts we 
are about to study is the method that will serve for other similar 
groups of facts. The various phenomena in the group constitute a 
natural family, in the same sense that the Papilionaceae in botany 
constitute a natural family: they can readily be identified and 
grouped together. There are huge numbers of them. We cannot 
possibly mention them all, but we can consider at least their prin- 
cipal types. 

187. We get many cases where there is a belief that by means of 
certain rites and practices it is possible to raise or quell a storm. At 
times it is not stated just how the effect ensues — it is taken as a 
datum of fact. At other times, the supposed reasons are given; the 
effect is taken as the theoretically explainable consequence of the 
working of certain forces. In general terms, meteorological phe- 
nomena are considered dependent upon certain rites and practices, 
either directly, or else indirectly, through the interposition of higher 

188. Palladius gives precepts without comment. Columella adds 
a touch of logical interpretation, saying that custom and experience 
have shown their efficacy.^ Long before their time, Empedocles, 

186 ^ Quite deliberately we choose, for our first example, a group of facts that, 
in our day at least, have little social importance. For that reason they do not arouse 
any sentiments likely to disturb the scientifically objective work to which we are 
trying to apply ourselves. Sentiments are the worst enemies the scientific study of 
sociology has to fear. Unfortunately we shall not always be able to side-step them 
in just this way. Later on the reader will have to do his part in holding his. senti- 
ments in hand. 

188 ^ Palladius, De re nistica, I, 35: "Many things are said [to be good] for hail. 
A millstone is covered with a red cloth. Also, an ax stained with blood may be 
shaken in threat at the sky. Also, whitevine [briony, alba vitis'\ may be strung 
about the whole garden, or an owl may be nailed up with outspread wings, or the 
working-tools may be greased with bear-fat. Some people keep a supply of bear-suet 
beaten {tusiun) in olive-oil on hand, and grease the sickles with it at pruning-time; 
but this remedy must be applied in secret, so that no pruner will know of it. It 
is reported to be of such efficiency that no harm can be done by any storm or pest 
{iieqiie nebula neque aliquo animali possit noceri, taking possit noceri as an im- 
personal construction). It is also important that nothing that has been profaned be 
used." Pliny, Historia nattiralis, XXVIII, 23, i: "In the first place hail-stones, they 
say, whirlwinds, and lightning even, will be scared away by a woman uncovering 
her body while her monthly courses are upon her [Bostock-Riley, Vol. V, p. 314]; 


according to Diogenes Laertius, Empedocles, VIII, 2, 59 (Hicks, 
Vol. II, pp. 373-75), boasted that he had power over the rain and 
the winds. On one occasion when the winds were blowing hard and 
threatening to destroy the harvests, he had bags of ass's skin made 
and placed on the mountains and in that way, trapped in the bags, 
the winds abated {loc. cit., 60, quoting Timaeus). Suidas makes this 
interpretation a little less absurd by saying that Empedocles stretched 
asses' skins about the city. Plutarch, Adversus Colotem, 32 (Goodwin, 
Vol. V, p. 381), gives an explanation still less implausible (though 
implausible enough) by having Empedocles save a town from plague 
and crop-failure by stopping up the mountain gorges through which 
a wind swept down over the plain. In another place, De curiositate, 
I (Goodwin, Vol. II, p. 424), he repeats virtually the same story, 
but this time mentioning only the plague. Clement of Alexandria 
credits Empedocles with calming a wind that was bringing disease 
to the inhabitants and causing barrenness in the women — and in 
that a new element creeps in, for the feat would be a Greek counter- 
feit of a Judaic miracle; and so we get a theological interpretation." 

and that so the violence of the heavens is averted; and out at sea tempests may be 
lulled in the same way, even though the woman is not menstruating at the time." 
Columella, De re rustica, I, i (Zweibriicken, Vol. I, p. 23). 

188 ^ Stromata, VI, 3 {Opera, Vol. II, pp. 243-52; Wilson, Vol. II, pp. 321 f.). 
Clement mentions other cases also. The land of Greece suffering from a great 
drought, the Pythoness prescribed that the people should resort to prayers by 
Aeacus. Aeacus went up on a mountain and prayed, and soon it rained copiously. 
For the same incident, see Pindar's scholiast, Nemea, V, 17 (Abel, Vol. II, p. 155); 
Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, IV, 61, 1-2 (Booth, Vol. I, pp. 272-73); 
Pausanias, Periegesis, I, Attica, 44, 9. In the same connexion Clement recalls that 
Samuel also made it rain (I Kings, 12: 18). Going back to the Greeks, Clement 
relates how at Chios Aristeus obtained winds from Jove to temper the heat of the 
dog-days; and that fact is also vouched for by Hyginus, Poeticon astronomicon, II, 
4, 5 (Chatelain, p. 17). Clement does not forget that at the time of the Persian in- 
vasion the Pythoness advised the Greeks to placate the winds (Herodotus, Historiae, 
VII, 178). Then comes the story of Empedocles; and Clement is back with his 
Bible again, quoting Ps., 83; Deut. 10:16, 17; Isa. 40:26. Then he remarks: "Some 
say that pestilences, hail-storms, wind-squalls, and other similar calamities arc 
caused not only by nattiral perturbations, but also by certain demons, or by the 
wrath of wicked angels." He continues with the story of the oflicials appointed at 
Cleonae to prevent hail-storms, and discusses the sacrifices used for that purpose 
(§ 194). Then he tells about the purification of Athens by Epimenides and mentions 
other similar stories. 


189. It is evident that here we have, as it were, a tree-trunk with 
many branches shooting off from it: a constant element, then a 
multitude of interpretations. The trunk, the constant element, is the 
belief that Empedocles saved a town from damage by winds; the 
ramifications, the interpretations, are the various conceptions of the 
way in which that result was achieved, and naturally they depend 
upon the temperaments of the writers advancing them: the prac- 
tical man looks for a pseudo-experimental explanation; the theo- 
logian, for a theological explanation. 

In Pausanias we get a conglomerate of pseudo-experimental, mag- 
ical, and theological explanations. Speaking of a statue of Athena 
Anemotis erected at Motona, Pausanias writes, Periegesis, IV, Mes- 
senia, 35, 8 : "It is said that Diomedes erected the statue and gave the 
goddess her name. Winds very violent and blowing out of season 
began devastating the country. Diomedes offered prayers to Athena; 
whereafter the country suffered no further ravages from the winds." 
Ibid., II, Corinth, 12, i: "At the foot of the hill (for the temple is 
built on a hill) stands the Altar of the Winds, whereon, one night 
each year, the priest sacrifices to the winds. In four pits that are 
there he performs other secret ceremonies to calm the fury of the 
winds, and likewise chants magic words that are said to come down 
from Medea." Ibid., 34: "I record this fact also, whereat I marvelled 
greatly while among the Methanians. If the south-east wind ["the 
Lipz"] blows in from the Saronic Gulf when the vines are bud- 
ding, it dries up the buds. So, as soon as the wind begins to blow, 
two men take a white-feathered cock, tear it in two, and run around 
the vineyards in opposite directions, each carrying half of the cock. 
Coming back to the point at which they started, they bury it. Such 
the remedy they have devised against that wind." 

Pomponius Mela mentions nine virgins who dwelt on the "Isle 
of Sena" and who were able to stir up the winds and the sea with 
their chants.^ In the Geoponicon, compiled by Cassianus Bassus, 

189 '^De situ orbis, III, 6, 3: "On [the Isle of] Sena [Sizun, Leon] in the British 
sea off the shores of Brittany {Osismicis ad versa litoribus) there is a celebrated 
oracle of a Gallic divinity, where the priestesses are said to be nine in number and 


I, 14, several methods of saving the fields from hail are mentioned; 
but the compiler of that collection explains that he has transcribed 
them only to avoid seeming disrespectful to things that have come 
down from the forefathers. His own beliefs, in a word, are different. 

190. One branch shooting off from this nucleus of interpretation 
overlying non-logical behaviour ends in a deification of tempests. 
Cicero, De natura deorum, III, 20, 51, has Cotta meet Balbus with 
the objection that if the sky, the stars, and the phenomena of weather 
were to be deified the number of the gods would be absurdly great. 
In this case the deification stands by itself; in other examples, it 
bifurcates and gives rise to numerous interpretations, personifica- 
tions, explanations.^ 

191. Capacity for controlling winds and storms becomes a sign 
of intellectual or spiritual power, as in Empedocles; or even of 

sanctified by perpetual chastity. They are called 'Barrigenae' (variant, Gallicenae) 
and are supposed to be endowed with remarkable abilides to raise winds and high seas 
with their incantadons, to turn into any animal they choose, cure diseases usually 
considered incurable, and see and predict the future; though they will perform 
such favours only for mariners who have made special voyages for the purpose of 
consulting them." Reinach deals with this text in Citltes, mythes et religions. Vol. I, 
p. 199, Les vierges de Sena. He thinks that Mela was repeadng information derived 
from Greek traditions: "Whatever Mela's immediate source in what he says of the 
Isle of Sena, there is reason to suppose that the substance of his story is very ancient. 
I believe I detect traces of it in the Odyssey itself, that prototype, as Lucian was to 
say in his time, of all the geographical romances of antiquity." That may well be; 
or it may also be that both the stories in the Odyssey and the others had a common 
origin in the nodon that it is possible to influence winds, a notion that was 
variously elaborated and explained as time went on. 

190 1 There are Latin inscriptions with invocations to the "divine" winds. Corpus 
inscriptionitm Latinarmn, Vol. III-I, nos. 2609-10, p. 308 (Orelli, Inscriptionum 
collectio, no. 1271): "loui O.M. tempestatum divinartim potenti leg. Ill Aug. 
dedicante." Maury, Histoire des religions de la Grece antique, Vol. I, pp. 166-69: 
"The winds were also worshipped by the primitive peoples of Greece, but that cult, 
which plays such an important part in the Rig-Veda, had noticeably weakened 
among the Hellenes. The winds continue, of course, to be personified, but they are 
worshipped only on special occasions and in certain localities. . . . Among the Chi- 
nese, worship of winds and mountains was associated with worship of streams (Biot, 
Le Tcheou-li, Vol. II, p. 86). When the Emperor drove over a mountain in his 
chariot, the driver offered a sacrifice to the mountain's genius {Ibid., Vol. II, p. 249). 
. . . The ancient Finns also addressed the winds as gods, especially north and south 
winds, the cold ones in formulas of disparagement." 


v.divinity, as In Christ quelling the tempest/ Magicians and witches 
demonstrate their powers in that fashion; and Greek anthropo- 
morphism knows lords of winds, storms, and the sea. 
. 192. Sacrifices were made to the winds. The sacrifice is just a 
I logical development of a magical operation like the use of the white 
cock just described. In fact for that ceremony to become a sacrifice, it 
need simply be stated that the cock is torn in twain as a sacrifice 
to this or that divinity. 

Virgil has a black sheep sacrificed to the Tempest, a white sheep 
to the fair Zephyr. Note the elements in his action: i. Principal ele- 
ment: the notion that it is possible to influence the winds by means 
of certain acts. 2. Secondary element: logical explanation of such 
acts, by introducing an imaginary being (personified winds, divini- 
ties, and the like). 3. An element still more secondary: specification 
of the acts, through certain similarities between black sheep and 
storms, white sheep and fair winds.^ 

193. The winds protected the Greeks against the Persian invasion 

191 ^ Matt. 8:23-27. The disciples, in wonder at the cessation of the storm, 
exclaim: "What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him!" 

192 "^ Aeneid, III, 115: "Let us appease the winds, and strike out for the realms 
of Gnosus." And III, 118: "So saying, he made the due sacrifices on the altars: a 
bull to Neptune, and a bull to thee, fair Apollo; a black sheep to Hiems [god of 
storms] and a white sheep to the favouring Zephyrs." S< rvius annotates (Thilo- 
Hagen, Vol. I, pp. 364-65) : "due \rneritos\ : appropriate to each god. . . , The 
kind of victim should correspond to the character of the divinity, for the victim 
is sacrificed either for its oppositeness to the gifts of the god, as, for instance, a pig 
to Ceres, the pig being destructive to crops; or a he-goat to Liber, the goat being 
harmful to grape-vines; or indeed by way of similitude, as black sheep to the nether 
gods, and white sheep to the gods of Heaven, black sheep to the Tempests and 
white to Fair Weather. ... 'A black sheep to Hiems,' etc. Aeneas performed the 
sacrifices in the proper order, first averting evil influences, the more readily to allure 
the good ones." 

Aristophanes, Ranae, vv. 847-48, plays upon this custom and calls for a black 
lamb to sacrifice as a shelter from the hurricane v/hich Aeschylus is about to stir 
up through his chaffing at Euripides: "Dionysus: Quick, boys, a black-fleeced ewe! 
A hurricane is upon us!" The scholiast notes (Diibner, pp. 299, 530, 701): "Blacf^^ 
ewe: because that is the sacrifice offered to the storm, Typhon, that the hurricane 
may cease; a black ewe: since that is the sacrifice offered to Typhon when the 
storm is in the form of a tornado. . . . BlacX_ and not white because Typhon 
is black." 



and in gratitude the Delphians reared an altar to them at Pthios.^ It 
is a famihar fact that Boreas, son-in-law to the Athenians by virtue 
of his marriage to Orithyia, daughter of Erechtheus, dispersed the 
Persian fleet, and therefore well deserved the altar that the Athenians 
reared in his honour on the shores of the Ilissus." 

Boreas, good fellow, looked after other people besides the Atheni- 
ans. He destroyed the fleet of Dionysius, as the latter was voyaging to 
attack the Thurii (Tarentines). "The Thurii therefore sacrificed to 
Boreas and elected that wind to citizenship [in their city] ; assigned 
him a house and a piece of land, and each year celebrated a festival 
in his honour." ^ He also saved the Megalopolitanians when they 
were besieged by the Spartans; and for that reason they ojfifered 
sacrifices to him every year and honoured him as punctiliously as 
any other god.* 

The art of lulling the winds was known to the Persian Magi also. 
Herodotus relates, Historiae, VII, 191, in connexion with the tempest 
that Boreas raised to help the Athenians and which inflicted heavy 
losses on the Persian fleet: "For three days the storm raged. The 
Magi sacrificed victims and addressed magical incantations to the 
wind, and sacrificed further to Thetis and the Nereids. Whereupon 
the winds ceased on the fourth day — unless it be that they fell of 
their own accord." Interesting this scepticism on the part of 

193 ^ Herodotus, Historiae, VII, 178. 

193 ^Herodotus, loc. cit., 189. At a later date one gets an interpretation that 
clears the episode of the supernatural element and explains it logically — a particular 
instance of a procedure that is general. Scholiast on Apollonius, Argonaittica, I, v. 211 
(Wellauer, Vol. II, p. 13): "Heragoras [read Hereas] says in his Megarica that 
Boreas, ravisher of Orithyia, was not the wind [of that name] but [a human being] 
son of Strymon." And cf. Carl Miiller's note on this scholium in his Fragmenta 
historicorian Graecontm, Vol. IV, p. 427. Still to be found are similar interpretations 
for other similar cases in which, according to the Athenians, Boreas was of help to 
them. But that is very easy: there must have been no end of individuals named 

193 ^ Aelian, De varia historia, XII, 61. 

193 ^ Pausanias, Periegesis, VIII, Arcadia, 36, 6 (Dindorf, p. 411). 

193 ^ Herodotus has some doubts also as to the aid lent by Boreas to the 
Athenians. He cautions that he does not know that Boreas really scattered the 
Barbarian fleet in answer to the prayers of the Athenians. He does know that the 


194. The notion that winds, rains, tempests, can be produced by 
art of magic is a common one in ancient writers/ Seneca discusses 
the causes of weather at length and derides magic. He does not 
admit the possibihty of forecasting the weather by observation, re- 
garding observation as just a preparation for the rites commonly 

Athenians assert that Boreas helped them at that time and that he had done so on 
previous occasions: Historiae, VII, 189: ol S'uv AdrjvaloL atjtiai Xiyovai (io7jd?'/cavTa tuv 
Boplr/v TTpdTcpov Kal rure EKslva Ka~epyacaa6ai. 

194 ^ Tibullus, for example, Delia, 1, vv. 51-52, mentions a witch at whose pleas- 
ure clouds vanish from the sky and snow falls in summer: 

"Cum libet haec tristi depellit nubila caelo, 
cum libet aestivo convocat orbe nives." 

And Ovid, Amoves, I, 8, vv. 5, 9-10: "She knows the arts of witchcraft and the 
chants of Circe (Aeaeaque carmina). ... At her pleasure clouds gather over the 
whole sky, at her pleasure bright day shines forth from the whole orb of Heaven." 
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, VII, v. 201, Medea boasts: "The clouds I bring and drive 
away, the winds I raise and hush." And Seneca makes her say in Medea, vv. 754, 
765: "Rain I called forth from dry clouds. . . . The waves began to moan, and 
wildly did the sea rage, though there was no wind." And see his Hercules Oetaetts, 
vv. 452 f. Lucan, Pharsalia, VI, vv. 440-61, describes the arts of a witch of Thessaly 
at length. It is noteworthy that her powers availed not through grace of the gods 
but against their will, compelling them. In Thessaly, says Lucan: 

". . . phirima surgunt 
Vim jactura deis . . ." 

(". . . many a plant grows that can force the hand of the gods.") At the com- 
mand of the Thessalian witch, Ibid., vv. 467-77: 

"Cessavere vices reriim, dilataque longa 
haesit node dies; legi non paruit aether, 
torpuit et praeceps audita carmine mundus, 
axibus et rapidis impulsos luppiter urguens 
miratur non ire polos. Nunc omnia conplent 
imbribtts et calido praediicitnt nubila Phoebo, 
et tonat ignaro caelum love; vocibus isdem 
umentes late nebulas nimbosque solutis 
excussere comis. Ventis cessantibus aequor 
intumuit; rursus vetitum sen tire procellas 
conticuit turbante Noto . . ." 

("The natural changes cease to function. Daylight lingers as night is lengthened; 
the atmosphere follows not its laws. Under the incantadons of the witches the swift- 
whirling firmament comes to a stop and Jupiter notes with surprise that the heavens 
cease to turn on their axes. Now they [the witches] drench the earth in rain and 
make clouds appear under a hot sun: there are peals of thunder that Jove knows 
nothing of. So with their magic words (vocibus) they dispel the canopy of watery 
vapour and cause the tresses of the storm-clouds to vanish. Now the sea lashes wild 



performed for averting storms." He says that at Cleonae there were 
pubhc officials known as "hail-observers." As soon as they gave 
warning of the approach of a storm, the inhabitants rushed to the 
temple and sacrificed some a ewe, others a fowl. Those who had 
nothing to sacrifice pricked a finger and shed a little blood, and 
the clouds moved on in another direction. "People have wondered 
how that happens. Some, as befits educated people, deny that it is 
possible to bargain with hail-stones and ransom oneself from storms 
by trifling gifts, granted that gifts sway even the gods. Others sus- 
pect that the blood may contain some property that is able to banish 
clouds. But how can so little blood contain a force of such magni- 
tude as to work far up in the skies and be felt by clouds ? How much 
simpler to say that it is stuff and nonsense. All the same the officials 
entrusted with forecasting storms at Cleonae were punished when 
through oversight on their part the vines and the crops were dam- 
aged. Our own XII Tables forbid anyone's laying an enchantment 
on another's crops. An ignorant antiquity believed that clouds could 
be compelled or dispelled by magic. But such things are so manifestly 
impossible that no great schooling is required to know as much." 

Few writers, however, evince the scepticism of Seneca, and we' 
have a long series of legends about storms and winds that come 
down to a day very close to our own. 

195. The Roman legions led by Marcus Aurelius against the 
Quadi chanced to be caught by a shortage of water, but a storm came 

though there is no wind or Hes smooth and calm under the blasts of Notus which 
it has been forbidden to heed.") 

Philostratus, Vita Apollonii, III, 14; Coming to the place where the Brahmans 
dwelt, Apollonius and his companions "beheld two jars of black stone, one the 
jar of rain and the other the jar of the winds. If India is suffering from a drought, 
the one containing the rain is opened, and it sends clouds and rains over all the 
land. If there is too much rain, the jar is closed, and the storm ceases. The jar of 
the winds works, I should say, something like the bag of Aeolus. If it is opened, 
one of the winds gets out, and it blows where it is needed and dries the land." 

194 ^ Naturales quaestiones, IV, 6-7: "I cannot refrain from alluding to die plen- 
teous idiocies of our own Stoics. They say that there are individuals who are expert 
at observing the clouds and predicting when it is going to hail, the which they 
are able to do by long experience in noting such colours in the clouds as hail quite 
frequently (toiiens) follows." 


along just in time to save them. The fact seems to be well authenti- ■ 
ij cated.^ So then, the why and wherefore of the storm has to be ex- I 
' plained; and everybody does so according to his individual senti- " 
J ments and inclinations. 

It may be a case of witchcraft. Even the name of the magician is 
known — in such cases one can be very specific at small cost ! Suidas 
says he was one Arnuphis, "an Egyptian philosopher who, being in 
attendance on Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher. Emperor of the 
Romans, at the time when the Romans fell short of water, straight- 
way caused black clouds to gather in the skies and a heavy rain 
to fall, wherewith thunder and frequent lightning; and those things 
he did of his science. Others say that the prodigy was the work of 
Julian the Chaldean." ^ 

Then again pagan gods may have a hand in it — otherwise what 
are gods good for? Dio Cassius, Historia Romana, LXXII, 8 (Gary, 
Vol. IX, pp. 27-29), says that while the Romans were hard pressed by 
the Quadi and were suffering terribly from heat and thirst, "of a sud- 
den many clouds gathered and much rain fell, not without divine 
purpose, and violently. And it is said of this that an Egyptian 
magician, Arnuphis by name, who was with Marcus, invoked a 
number of divinities ^ by magic art, and chiefly Hermes Aerius, and 
so brought on the rain." 

Claudian believes that the enemy was put to flight by a rain of 
fire. And the cause? Magic, or else benevolence of Jove the Thun- 
derer.* Capitolinus knows that Marcus Antoninus "with his prayers 

195 ^ We need not inquire here whether the legion called the Fulminata got its 
name from that episode. The question is irrelevant to our present purposes. Even 
if the story of the storm were itself not true, the example would serve quite as well, 
since we are interested not in the historical fact but in the sentiments disclosed by 
the stories, true or false, that grew up around it. 

195 2 Lexicon, s.v. ' Apvov(pi^. 

195 ^ Stricdy "demons"; but the pagan SalfiuvEg rcmsx. not be confused widi 
the Christian "demons" (§ 1613). 

195 ■* Pattegyricus de sexto consulatu Hot7orii Augusti, vv. 342-49 (Carmina, Vol. 

II, p. 98): 

". . . natn flcuiimeiis imber in hostem decidit . . . 
tunc contenta polo mortalis nescia teli 
pugna jiiit, Chaldaea mago seu carmina ritu 


turned the thunderbolts of heaven against the war machines of the 
enemy and obtained rain for his soldiers who were suffering from 
thirst.^ With Lampridius the episode is further elaborated and as- 
sumes new garb. Marcus Antoninus has succeeded in making the 
Marcomanni friendly to the Romans by certain magical practices. 
The formulas are withheld from Elagabalus in fear lest he be de- 
siring to start a new war.^ 

armavere deos, seu, quod reor, omne Tonantis 
obseqiiium Marci mores potnere mereri." 

("For a storm of fire descended upon the enemy. . . . Then a battle knowing no 
mortal weapon was fought by Heaven alone: for either Chaldean chants by magic 
rite had armed the gods; or else, as I believe, the character {mores) of Marcus 
merited all deference from the Thunderer.") Note the ethical elaboration. Boreas in- 
terposes on the basis of a mere family relationship with the Athenians. The Thun- 
derer intervenes here not as a favour to Marcus, but in view of his good character. 
Such transformations are general. 

195 ^ Marcus Antoninus Philosophus, 24, 4. The case of a storm favouring one of 
two belligerents as a result of magic or by divine goodwill is to be noted in coun- 
tries widely separated and under such conditions as to preclude any suspicion of 
imitation. In The Chinese, Vol. II, 1806, p. 112; 1836, pp. 1 17-18, Davis transcribes 
a passage from the History of the Three Kingdoms: "Lew-pei took occasion to steal 
upon Chang-paou with his whole force, to baiBe which the latter mounted his horse, 
and, with dishevelled hair and waving sword, betook himself to magic arts. The 
wind arose with loud peals of thunder, and there descended from on high a black 
cloud, in which appeared innumerable men and horses as if engaged. Lew-pei im- 
mediately drew off his troops in confusion, and giving up the contest, retreated to 
consult with Choo-tsien. The latter observed, 'Let him have recourse again to 
magic; I will prepare the blood of swine, sheep, and dogs.' . . . On the following 
day, Chang-paou, with flags displayed and drums beadng, came forth to offer bat- 
tle, and Lew-pei proceeded to meet him; but scarcely had they joined before Chang- 
paou put his magic in exercise; the wind and thunder arose, and a storm of sand 
and stone commenced. A dark cloud obscured the sky, and troops of horsemen 
seemed to descend. Lew-pei upon this made a show of retreating, and Chang-paou 
followed him; but scarcely had they turned the hill when the ambushed troops 
started up and launched upon the enemy their impure stores. The air seemed im- 
mediately filled with men and horses of paper or straw, which fell to the earth in 
confusion; while the winds and thunder at once ceased, and the sand and stones 
no longer flew about." 

195 ^Antoninus Heliogabalus, 9, 1-2 (Magie, Vol. II, p. 125): "Desiring to make 
war upon the Marcomanni (Marchmen) whom Marcus (Aurelius) Antoninus had 
very handily (pulcherrime) subdued, he [Elagabalus] was told by certain individ- 
uals that Marcus had arranged through Chaldean magicians that the Marcomanni 
should for ever be friendly and devoted to the Roman People, and that that had 
been done by recidng certain chants, with a rite. When he asked what the chants 


Finally the Christians claim the miracle for their God. On the 
passage from Dio Cassius (LXXII, 8) quoted above, XiphiUnus 
(Gary, Dio, Vol. IX, pp. 29-33) notes that Dio wittingly or unwit- 
tingly, but he suspects wittingly, misleads the reader. He surely 
knew — since he mentions it himself — all about the "Thundering 
Legion," the Fulminata, to which, and not to the magician Arnu- 
phis, the rescue of the army was due ! The truth is as follows : Marcus 
had a legion made up entirely of Christians. During the battle, the 
praetor's adjutant came and told Marcus that there was nothing 
which Christians were unable to obtain by prayer and that there 
was a legion of Christians in the army. "Hearing which, Marcus 
urged them to bestir themselves and pray to their God. They prayed, 
and God heard their prayer immediately and smote the enemy with 
lightning, whereas the Romans He comforted with rain." Xiphilinus 
adds that a letter of Marcus Aurelius on the incident was said to be 
in existence in his time. The letter, forged by people more dis- 
tinguished for piety than veracity, is also alluded to by other writers; 
and Justin Martyr goes so far as to give its authentic text.^ 

were or where tliey could be found, he was not told; for it was certain that he 
was inquiring about the spell in order to undo it for the purpose of bringing on a 

195 ''Apologia, I, 71 (Migne, p. 439A, Davie, p. 55). The Emperor Marcus is 
writing to the Senate, and the forger makes him say of the Christians: "They prayed 
to a god unknown to me, and straightway water fell from the sky and to us it was 
ice-cold, but to the enemies of the Romans it was a hail of fire." The miracle grows 
and grows and gets prettier and prettier! The incident and the letter are mentioned 
by Tertullian, Apologeticus, V, 6; and Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica, V, 1-6. Euse- 
bius does not state that the Emperor requested the Christians to pray — they knelt 
and prayed of their own accord before the battle. The enemy was surprised at the 
spectacle. But a more astounding thing then occurred: a hurricane arose and put 
the enemy to flight, while a gentle rain refreshed the Romans. Zonaras, Epitome 
historiarum, XII, 2 (Migne, Vol. 134, pp. 1003-06), on the other hand, repeats by and 
large the story of the Pseudo-Justin. Orosius, Histoiiae adversus paganos, VII, 15 
(Browne, p. 126), says: "The tribes had risen in insurrection, barbarous in their 
cruelties and countless in their multitudes, to wit: the Marcomanni, the Quadi, 
the Vandals, the Sarmatae, the Suebi — in fact almost all Germany. The army hav- 
ing advanced to the frontiers of the Quadi, it was there surrounded by the enemy, 
and found itself in imminent danger from thirst, but more in view of a shortage of 
water than because of the foe. Whereupon certain of the soldiers began to pray in 
great earnestness of faith and publicly to call upon the name of Christ; and straight- 
way a rain fell in such abundance as to refresh the Romans bounteously and with- 


196. So the legend expands, widening in scope and gradually 
approximating a veritable novel. But not only the external embellish- 
ments increase in number. Concepts multiply in the substance itself. 
The nucleus is a mechanical concept.^ Certain words are uttered, 
certain rites are performed, and the rain falls. Then comes a feeling 
that that has to be explained. A first theory assumes the inter- 
position of supernatural beings. But then the interference of such 
gods has also to be explained, and we get a second explanation. But 
that explanation too bifurcates according to the supposed reasons for 
the intervention, foremost among which stands the ethical reason, 
so introducing a new concept that was altogether absent in the 
magical operation proper. This new concept enlarges the scope of 
the whole procedure. Rain was once the sole objective of the rite. 
Now it becomes a means whereby the divine power rewards its 
favourites and punishes their enemies, and then, further, a means 
for rewarding faith and virtue. A final step is to move on from the 
particular case to the general. It is no longer a question of a single 
fact, but of a multiplicity of facts, all following a certain rule. This 

out damage, whereas the Barbarians were terrified by a rapid succession of thunder- 
bolts and large numbers of them were killed, so that he [Marcus Aurelius] put 
them to rout." See also Nicephorus Callistus, Ecclesiastica historia, FV, 12; Cedrenus, 
Historiarum compendium, I, 250, 15-22 (Bekker, Vol. I, p. 439); Gregory of Nyssa, 
Oratio 77* in laudem XL martirum {Opera, Vol. Ill, pp. 758-72). 

196 ^ It appears in virtually naked form in the case of the "pluvial stone" in 
Rome, which needed only to be moved about the streets to produce rain. Festus, 
De verhortim significatione, I, s.v. Aquaelicittm (London, Vol. I, p. 84) : " [This 
term] is used when rain-water is attracted by certain rites, such as dragging the 
'pluvial stone' about the streets of the city as used to be done, according to legend, 
in days gone by." And Ibid., XI, s.v. Manalis lapis "flowing stone" (London, Vol. 

I, p. 383) : "The 'flowing stone,' so called, was a certain stone that lay outside the 
Porta Capena near the temple of Mars. In times of excessive drought this stone was 
carried about the streets inside the city, whereupon rain at once ensued. They called 
it the flowing stone because the water began flowing." So then, all that was required 
was to drag the stone about the city, and the rain came down at once. Cf. Nonius 
Marcellus, De compendiosa doctrina, 15, s.v. Trtdletim (Mercier, p. 547); Fulgen- 
tius, Expositio sermonum antiqiionim ad Chalcidium grammaticum (Miincker, Vol. 

II, pp. 169-70) : "Labeo, who compiled and annotated the Etruscan rituals of the 
gods Tages and Bacitis, writes as follows: 'If the flesh of the liver is of a sandarac 
red, it is time for the flowing stones to be scraped and cleaned {verrere)^ He means 
those cylinder-shaped stones which our forefathers used to drag about their prop- 
erties to break a period of dry weather." 


leap is taken by Tertullian. After telling the story of the rain secured 
by the soldiers of Marcus Aurelius, he adds: "How often have 
droughts not been stopped by our prayers and our fasts!"" 

Other cases of the same kind could be adduced; which goes to 
show that the sentiments in which they originate are fairly common 
throughout the human race.^ 

197. In Christian writers it is natural that logical explanations of 
the general law of storms should centre about the Devil. Clement 
of Alexandria records the belief that wicked angels have a hand in 
tempests and other such calamities (§ i88 ").^ But, let us not forget, 

196 - Ad Scapulatn, 4 {Opera, Vol. Ill, pp. 46-52; English, Vol. I, p. 51): "Marcus 
quoque Aurelius in Germanica expeditione Christianorum militum orationibus ad 
deum jactis imbres in siti impetravit. Quando non geniculationibus et ieiunationibus 
nostxis etiam siccitates sunt depulsae?" 

196 ^ Pausanias, Periegesis, VIII, Arcadia, 38, 4 (Dindorf, pp. 414-15). The au- 
thor is speaking of the spring called Hagnus on Mount Lycaeus: "When a drought 
has lasted for a long time and the sown seed and the trees have begun to suffer, the 
priest of the Lycaean Zeus offers prayers and sacrifices to the water according to the 
established forms and then stirs the water in the spring with an oak-branch — on 
the surface, not deep down. As the water is stirred a mistlike vapour rises. Soon 
the vapour becomes a cloud, and attracting other clouds causes rain to fall on the 
land of the Arcadians." We shall see (§ 203) that witches caused rain and hail by 
somewhat similar means, the differences being as follows: i. The Devil of the 
Christians takes the place of the pagan divinities (each people of course introducing 
the beings deified in its own religion). 2. In Pausanias the operation is primarily 
beneficent. It may be so among Christians; but in general it is a wicked thing. 
(Deified beings usually exert influences appropriate to their individual characters 
and the Devil is by nature wicked.) In the present case we see an imaginary fact 
explained in various ways. The sentiments corresponding to the fact are evidently 
the constant element, the explanations the variable element. 

197 ^ Stromata, VI, 3 (Opera, Vol. II, p. 247B; Wilson, Vol. II, pp. 319-23). The 
Dominican Inquisitors, Sprenger and Kramer, who wrote the Malleus maleficarum, 
debate learnedly and at length as to whether the Devil must always work with the 
magician, or whether they can function separately. Pars I, quaestio 1 (Summers, p. 
12): "Whether it is sound doctrine to hold that the Devil must always co-operate 
with the sorcerer in an act of witchcraft, or whether the one can produce that effect 
without the other, as the Devil without the sorcerer, or vice versa." As proof that 
the human being could do without the Devil or, in general terms, the "lower" 
without the "higher" power, some cited the fact vouched for by Albertus Magnus 
that sage-leaves when rotted in a certain manner and thrown into a well [Summers, 
"running water"] could bring on a storm. The Malleus has no doubts on the point, 
but explains it. It begins by distinguishing different effects, such as ministeriales , 
noxiales, maleficiales, et naturales [Summers, p. 14: "beneficial, hurtful, wrought 
by witchcraft, natural"]. The first are produced by good angels, the second by 


that is just an adjunct, by way of explanation, to the basic element— 
the belief that it is possible to influence storms and other calamities 
of the kind by certain rites. Victorious Christianity had to fight for 
its interpretations first with ancient pagan practices and later on 
with magical arts that in part continued the pagan and in part were 
new. But great the need of escaping storms! And powerful the 
thought that there were ways of doing so! So in one manner or 
another the need was covered and the thought carried out." 

198. In mediaeval times individuals endowed with such powers 
were known as tempestarii, and even the law took cognizance of 
them. Nevertheless the Church did not recognize this power of 
producing storms without a struggle. The Council of Braga in the 
year 563 (Labbe, Vol. VI, p. 518) anathematizes anyone teaching 
that the Devil can produce thunder, lightning, tempests, or drought. 
A celebrated ecclesiastical decree denies all basis in fact to fanciful 
tales about witches.^ 

wicked angels, the third by the Devil with the help of sorcerers or witches, the last 
by influences from celestial bodies. That much clear, it is easy to see how the sage 
has the effects it has without the help of the Devil [Summers, p. 16] : "And diirdly, 
as to the sage that has been rotted and thrown into a well, it is to be said that a 
'noxial' effect can ensue without the pardcipadon of the Devil but not apart from 
the influence of a celesdal body." 

197 ^ St. Gregory of Tours, De sancto Nicetio Treveroriim episcopo, 5 {Vitae 
Patrum, XVII, Opera, p. 1083B), tells of an incident that happened to St. Nizier. 
One day a man called on the Saint to thank him for having saved his life at sea 
under very perilous circumstances, in the following terms: "A short time since, 
while in a ship on my way to Italy, I found myself amid a muldtude of heathen, 
and in that great throng of uncouth individuals I was the only Chrisdan. One day 
a tempest arose and I began to call on the name of God that by His intercession 
He should cause the tempest to abate. The heathen for their part were praying to 
their own gods, some beseeching Jove, some calling on Mercury, in loud voice, oth- 
ers begging help now of Minerva, now of Venus. Since wc were in grave peril of 
death, I said to them: 'Gentlemen, pray not to those gods, for they are not gods 
but devils. If ye would save yourselves from this present perdition, call upon St. 
Nizier, that he secure you salvation of the mercy of God.' Whereupon with one 
loud voice they cried, 'God of Nizier, save us!' and straightway the sea subsided, 
the winds abated, the sun came out, and the ship sailed on whither we were 

198 ^ Decretum Gratiani, pars II, causa 26, quaestio 5, canon 12 (Friedberg, 
Vol. I, pp. 1030-31): The witches' sabbath is declared a fraud: "Wherefore the 
priests through the Churches entrusted to them shall preach to God's people in all 
urgency that they should know that all such things are altogether false and that 


St. Agobard wrote an entire book "against idiotic notions current 
as to hail and thunder." Says he: "In these parts nearly all people, 
noble or villein, burgher or rustic, old or young, believe that hail 
and thunder can be produced at the will of men. They therefore 
exclaim at the first signs of thunder and lightning: 'Raised air!' 
Asked to explain what 'raised air' is, they will tell you, some shame- 
facedly as though conscious of sin, others with the wonted frankness 
of the ignorant, that the air has been stirred by the incantations of 
individuals known as 'tempestuaries' and that that is why they say 
'raised air.' We have seen and heard many people possessed of such 
stupidity and out of their heads with such lunacy as to believe and 
say that there is a certain country called 'Magonie' whence ships sail 
out on the clouds and return laden with the grain which the hail 
mows and the storms blow down, and that the 'tempestuaries' are 
paid by such aerial mariners for the grain and other produce de- 
livered to them. We have seen a great crowd of people — blinded by 
such great stupidity as to believe such things possible — drag four 
persons in chains before our court, three men and a woman, alleging 
that they had fallen from one of those ships. They had been held in 
chains for several days till the court convened; then they were pro- 
duced, in our presence, as I said, as culprits worthy to be stoned to 
death. Nevertheless, after much parley the truth prevailing, the 
accusers were, in the prophet's words, confounded like thieves caught 
in the act." ^ 

such phantoms are inflicted upon the minds of the faithful not by a divine but by 
an evil spirit. . . . For who of us is not carried outside himself in dreams and 
nocturnal visions and does not see in his sleep things never seen while waking? 
And who could be so stupid and so weak of mind as to think that all such things 
which take place only in the spirit take place in the body also?" The decree was 
taken from Reginon, De disciplinis ecdesiasticis et religione Christiana, II, 364 
(Opera, p. 352). It is possibly a fragment of a capitulary of Charles the Bald. 
Baronio, Annates ecclesiastici, anno 382, XX, quotes a decree of Pope Damasus: 
"Likewise to be excommunicated are all such as attend to spells, auguries, fortune- 
telling and all other superstidons; and under the same condemnation are especially 
to be punished women who by the Devil's deception imagine they are carried about 
at night on the backs of animals and go travelling in company with Herodias." 

198 ^ Contra insulsam vulgi opiuionem de grandine et tonitrtiis {Opera, pp. 
147-48). In comment on the passage, Baluze writes: "Girard, Archbishop of Tours, 
mentions 'tempestuaries' by name in the third section of his statutes: 'Relative to 


St. Agobard demonstrates from Holy Writ the error of believing 
that hail and thunder are at the beck and call of human beings. 
Others, on the contrary, will likewise show by Scripture that the 
belief is sound. Yes and no have at all times been produced from 
Scripture with equal readiness. 

199. Doctrines recognizing the powers of witches were mistrusted 
by the Church for two reasons, at first because they looked like 
survivals of paganism, the gods of which were identified with devils; 
then because they were tainted with Manicheism, setting up a prin- 
ciple of evil against a principle of good. But owing to the pressure 
of the popular beliefs in which the non-logical impulses involved in 
magic expressed themselves, the Church finally yielded to something 
it could not prevent, and with little trouble found an interpretation 
humouring popular superstition and at the same time not incom- 
patible with Catholic theology. After all, what did it want? It 
wanted the principle of evil to be subordinate to the principle of 
good. No sooner said than done! We can grant, to be sure, that 
magic is the work of the Devil — but we will add, "God permitting." 
That will remain the final doctrine of the Catholic Church. 

200. Popular superstitions exerted pressure not only upon the 
Church but also upon secular governments ; and they, without both- 
ering very much to find logical interpretations, set out with a will to 
punish all sorts of sorcerers and witches, "tempestuaries" included.^ 

spellbinders, enchanters, soothsayers, fortune-tellers, dream-readers, tempestuaries 
and rigmaroles against frosts (? brevibus pro jrigoribtis), and relative to witches 
and such females as deal in signs and portents of various kinds, that they may be 
prohibited and public punishment inflicted {publicae poenitentiae miiltentur).'' " 

200 ^ Eunapius relates, Vitae philosophortitn ac sophistartim, Aedisitis, Sopater, 
Wright, pp. 383-85, that one year it came to pass that, favourable winds failing, 
ships could not get to Byzantium with their grain. The famished inhabitants were 
being entertained in a theatre with scant success and loudly protested to the Em- 
peror Constantine that the philosopher Sopater was the cause of the famine, since 
"he had shackled the winds with his transcendent science." Constantine was con- 
vinced, and ordered the man executed. Suidas, Lexicon, s.v. lu-arpoc 'ATa/iEi-g 
says that the philosopher in question was killed by Constantine "so as to make evi- 
dent to all that he, Constantine, was no longer a devotee of the Hellenic religion." 
This version accords with the other, Suidas explaining the "convinced" of Eunapius! 
Codex Theodosianus, IX, 16, 5 (Haenel, p. 869) : "Many individuals do not hesitate 
to disturb the elements by art of magic nor to upset the tranquillity {vitas) of inno- 


201. Whenever a certain state of fact, a certain state of belief, 
exists, there is always someone on hand to try to take advantage of 
it; and it is therefore not surprising that Church, State, and indi- 
viduals should all have tried to profit by the belief in witchcraft. 
St. Agobard reports that blackmail was paid to "tempestuaries," ^ 
and Charlemagne, no less, admonishes his subjects to pay their 
tithes to the Church regularly if they would be surer of their crops.^ 

cent citizens and annoy them by fatuous talk {ventilare) about evoking ghosts of 
the dead {manibus accitis), on pretence that they can overcome their enemies by 
witchcraft. Since such individuals are unnatural monsters {naturae peregrini), may 
a deadly pest destroy them." The same law appears in the Codex Justiniani, IX, 
i8, 6 {Corpus iuris civilis. Vol. II, p. 596; Scott, Vol. XV, p. 33). And cf. Codex 
legis Wisigothorum, VI, 2, 3 (Canciani, Vol. IV, p. 133) : "Sorcerers and storm- 
compellers who are said to bring hail upon vineyards and grain-fields by certain 
incantations, and those who disturb the minds of people by conjuring up devils, 
wheresoever discovered and arrested by a magistrate or by a local representadve or 
attorney [of the Crown] shall be publicly lashed with two hundred lashes, and 
with their hair clipped in derision they shall be forced, if unconsendng, to march 
around the ten estates next adjoining, that others may profit by their example." 
Capitulare seculare anni 80$: De incantoribus et tempestariis, 25: "As to enchant- 
ments, fortune-telling and divinations, and individuals who cause storms or prac- 
tise other witchcraft, it is the pleasure of the Council that wherever such are ar- 
rested, the archbishop of that diocese shall provide for their subjection to a most 
searching examination to see whether, perchance, they confess to the crimes they 
have committed." 

201 ^ Op. cit., 15: "Such idiocy is no small part of disloyalty to the Church, and 
meantime the evil has so spread abroad that in many places there are wretches who 
say they not only know how to cause storms but also how to protect the inhabitants 
of a locality from storms. They have a tariff {statutum) as to how much farmers 
shall give of their crops, and they call it their 'canon.' There are many people who 
never pay their tithes to the Church of their own accord, and never give alms to 
widows and orphans or the other poor; and no matter how often such things are 
preached and published to them, no matter how urgendy they are exhorted, they 
still refuse. But what they call the 'canon' they pay to those who they think protect 
them from storms, without any preaching, admonition, or exhortation — strictly of 
their own accord, the Devil prompting, of course." 

201 ^ Karoli Magni capitularia, 28, Synodus Francofurtensis, June 25, anno 
Christi DCCXCIV {Monumenta Germaniae historica, Legum, Vol. I, p. 76) : 
". . . and every man shall pay the legal tithe to the Church out of his property; 
for we learned of experience in the year of the great famine that abundant harvests 
came to naught because devoured by devils, and voices were heard in upbraiding." 
One of these wicked demons, who was possessing a maiden, was exorcized on relics 
of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, and gave a clear explanation of the trouble: "I 
am," he said, "a satellite and disciple of Satan and was for a long time door-man 
in Hell. But for some years past, along with eleven companions, I have been ravag- 


202. In the Middle Ages and the centuries following there was a 
veritable deluge of accusations against sorcerers for stirring up 
storms and destroying harvests. Humanity lived in terror of the 
Devil for generation after generation. Whenever people spoke of 
him, they seemed to go out of their heads, and, as might be ex- 
pected of raving lunatics, spread death and ruin recklessly about. 

203. The Malleus maleficarum {Hammer for Witches) of Spren- 
ger and Kramer gives a good summary of the doctrine prevailing 
in the fifteenth century, though it was also the doctrine of periods 
earlier and later: 

"That demons and their disciples can work such enchantments on 
lightning and hail, having received power therefor of God, and 
namely through His authorization of devils or their disciples, is 
attested by Holy Writ, Job i and 2 . . . whereof St. Thomas in a 
note on Job writes as follows:^ 'We must confess that, God per- 
mitting, demons may effect disturbances in the air, raise storms, 
and cause fire to fall from the sky. Though corporeal nature in 
assuming its forms does not obey the commands of angels, whether 
good or bad, but only God the Creator, nevertheless, as regards local 
motion, [corporeal] nature is susceptible of obedience to spiritual 
nature, as may be seen in human beings, who, by sole power of the 
will, which is subjective in the soul, are able to move their members 
to the end of performing desired actions. Therefore motion — which, 
by its nature, not only good but also wicked angels can effect — is 
alone possible, save it be forbidden of God.' " ^ The disquisition on 

ing this kingdom of France. Grain and wine, and all the other fruits which come 
of the Earth for the use of mankind, we have destroyed as we were bidden." This 
intelligent demon expatiates at length on what was back of it all. The devastation 
was, he said, "due to the wickedness of this people and the many iniquities of its 
rulers." And, the tongue falling where the tooth scratched, he did not forget the 
tithes: "Rari sunt qui fideliter ac devote decimas dent." Cf. Eginhard, Historia 
translationis sanctorum Christi martyrum Marcellini et Petri, V, 50 {Opera, Vol. II, 
pp. 284-86; Wendell, pp. 66-67). 

203 * [In librum beati Job expositio, I, lectio 4 {Opera, 1570 ed.. Vol. Ill, p. 3, 


203 ^ [So Pareto. Summers: "Therefore, whatever can be accomplished by mere 
local motion, this not only good but also bad spirits can by their natural power 
accomplish, unless God should forbid it." — A. L.] 


the power of demons runs on and finally the authors of the Malleus 
give an example: "In [Nider's] Formicarius, [V, 4, f. R2], we are 
told of a man who was seized by a judge and questioned touching 
his manner of procedure in raising storms and whether it were an 
easy matter to do that. He answered: 'It is easy enough to make it 
hail, but we cannot inflict damage at will because of the surveillance 
of good angels.' And he added: 'We can harm only those who are 
without succour of God. Those who take care to carry the sign of 
the Cross we cannot harm. Our procedure is as follows : First in the 
field [in question] we pray, by a magic formula, to the Prince of all 
the demons to send us one of his servants to smite whither we point. 
The demon comes. Thereupon at a cross-roads we sacrifice a black 
fowl to him, tossing it high in the air. The demon takes it and obeys. 
He brings on a storm and hurls hail-stones and lightning-bolts, but 
not always on the spots we have designated, but whither God per- 
mits.' " ^ The writer continues with other stories as plausible as they 
are marvellous. We will touch briefly here on just one of them which 
is told by another writer. 

The daughters of witches often have the powers their mothers 
have.^ "Hence it may happen and has been known to happen . . . 
that a girl under the age of puberty, eight or ten years old, has 
produced hail and tempests." And the author gives an example 
(Summers, p. 144) : "In Swabia a peasant with his daughter, hardly 
eight years old, was once looking at the grain in the fields. And 
considering the drought, and sorrowful, he wished for rain, saying: 
'Alas, when is it going to rain?' The child, hearing her father's 
words, said in the simpleness of her soul : 'Father, if you would have 
rain, I will make it rain right soon!' And the father: 'How in the 
world can you make it rain?' 'Certainly I can, and not only can I 
make it rain: I can also make it hail and storm.' 'And who taught 

203 "^ Pars II, qtiaestio I, cap. XV (Summers, pp. 147-48): "As to the manner in 
which sorcerers customarily raise tempests and hail-storms and hurl thunderbolts at 
human beings and cattle." 

203 ^ Ibid., Pars II, qtiaestio I, cap. XIII (Summers, pp. 140-44) : "As to the man- 
ner in which midwives who are witches do still greater harm, either killing children 
or pledging them to the Devil by enchantments." 


you that?' 'Mama, but she told me not to tell anyone!'" The con- 
versation continues; and finally "the father led his daughter to a 
brook. 'Make it rain,' he said, 'but only on our field.' The girl then 
put her hand into the water, and in the name of her master, accord- 
ing to her mother's teaching, stirred it about. And lo! the rain fell, 
and only upon her father's field! Seeing which her father said: 
'Make it hail, but only upon one of our fields.' When the girl did 
that too, the father was convinced from what he had seen, and re- 
ported his wife to the judge. She was seized, convicted, and burned; 
and her daughter, baptized anew and consecrated to God, no longer 
had powers to work her art." 

Though Del Rio quotes the Malleus, and another authority still, 
he tells the story somewhat differently, especially as to the way in 
which the rain was caused. Here we catch these legends in process 
of formation. Probably not all of this story was invented. Some such 
incident occurs. It is then amplified, commented upon, explained, 
and from it, as from a little seed, there comes an abundant harvest 
of fantastic and grotesque fiction.^ 

204. De Rio gives a long list of highly reputable writers who main- 
tain that sorcerers can produce hail and storms; and whose names, 

203 ^ Del Rio, Disquisitiones magicae, II, 11 (Louvain, Vol. I, p. 155; Cologne, 
p. 139) : "Recentiora exempla nitpcri scriptores protulerunt: Addam duo, tinum 
lepidtim [He calls "amusing" a story that ends in the death of two women at the 
stake!] horrendmn alteritm. In ditione Trevirensi rttstictts fttit qui cum filiola sua 
octenni caules plantabat in horto. Filiolam forte coUaudavit, quod apte hoc munus 
obiret. Ilia sexu et aetate garrula se nosse alia face re magis stupe 12 da iactat. Pater 
quid id foret sciscitatur: 'Secede paullum,' iiiquit, 'et in quam voles horti partem 
subitum imhrem dabo.' Miratus ille: 'Age, secedam,' ait. Quo recedente, scrobem 
puella fodit, in earn de pedibus (ut cum Hebraeis loquar pudentius) aquam fundit, 
eamque bacillo turbidat, nescio quid submurmurans. Et ecce tibi subito pluviam de 
nubibus in conditum locum. 'Outs' inquit obstupejactus pater 'te hoc docuit?' 
'Mater,' respondet, 'huius et aliorum siinilitim peritissima.' Zelo incitatus agricola 
post paiicos dies, invitatum se ad nuptias simulans, uxorem cum gnata festive nup- 
tiali modo exornatas in carrum imponit, in vicinum oppidum devehit, et iudici 
tradit maleficii crimen supplicio expiaturas. Hoc mihi fide dignissimorum virorum 
narratio suggessit. Ubi notandus modus scrobiculam jaciendi et quod in eam iecerts 
bacillo confutandi." Just for a comparison, I quote the passage in the Malleus which 
tells how the rain was obtained (Summers, p. 144): "Tunc pater puellam per 
manum ad torrentem deduxit. 'Fac,' inquit, 'sed tantutnmodo super agrum nos- 
trum.' Tunc puella manum in aquam misit et in nomine sui magistri iuxta doc- 


supplemented by the authority of Scripture and by practical instances 
attested by people worthy of all credence, are surely calculated to 
vanquish the most obstinate incredulity! ^ 
205. Godelmann imparts various ways in which witches, schooled 

triua7n matiis movit. Et ecce tantummodo pluvia agriim ilium perfudit. Quod 
cernens pater, 'Fac,' inquit, 'et grandinem, sed tantummodo super unurn ex agris 
nostris/ " and so on. 

The other example reported by Del Rio is a story taken from Pontano, of a city 
besieged by the King of Naples, which ran short of water and obtained it by rains 
provoked by magic and sacrilege. Del Rio may have had before him other passages 
from the Formicarius or the Malleus: for example, as regards the latter, the inci- 
dent recounted in Pars II, quaestio I, cap. Ill (Summers, pp. 104, 107) : "As to 
the manner in which they [witches] are transferred physically from one place to 
another." A witch had not been invited to a wedding banquet. "Enraged and think- 
ing to avenge herself, she conjured up the Devil, stated her grievance and asked 
him to be good enough to make a hail-storm and scatter the company at the dance. 
Consenting, he lifted her up and in full view of certain shepherds bore her through 
the air to [the top of] a hill near the town. As she afterwards confessed, there was 
no water there for pouring into her pit — a way they have, as will be seen, when 
they are getting hail. So she made a little hole and filled it with her urine in place 
of water, and stirred it with her finger, as her custom was, the Devil looking on. 
And straightway the Devil, raising the liquid high in the air, sent a violent storm 
with hail-stones, just upon the party at the dance and the people in the town. The 
guests were scattered. They were sdll talking together as to the cause of what had 
happened when the witch came home. That aroused their suspicions. But when the 
shepherds told what they had seen, the suspicion which had been strong became 
violent. [We laugh nowadays at such idiocy; but the sendments it expresses have 
been the cause of untold sufferings to mankind, and countless deaths.] The woman 
was arrested and confessed that she had done those things for cause — probably be- 
cause she had not been invited to the party. Then she was burned, in view also of 
many other acts of witchcraft [Probably as well authenticated as the above!] of 
which she had been guilty." Del Rio got this story from the Daemonolatreia of 
Remy, I, 25 (Lyons, pp. 158-62; Ashwin, pp. 74-75). 

204 ^ Op. cit., V, 16 (Vol. Ill, p. 99). In II, II (Louvain, Vol. I, pp. 152-54; 
Cologne, p. 136) he writes: "Thirdly . . . sorcerers can abate tempests, cause light- 
ning and thunder, provoke hail-storms and rain-storms and like weather, and they 
can send them upon such lands as they choose." He rebukes people who do not 
believe such things and claim that only God can do them: "To be sure, God does 
do them as the prime, independent, universal efEcient-cause; but his creatures do 
them as particular, dependent, and secondary efficient-causes. Wherefore the com- 
mon opinion of theologians and jurists, which I stated as my thesis, is to be fol- 
lowed. It is proved, firstly, by Most Holy Scripture: for there Satan causes fire to 
fall from Heaven and destroy the servants and the flocks of Job; and he also causes 
violent winds. . . . Most Holy Scripture expressly states that the hail whereby the 
Egyptians were punished was sent by wicked angels. . . . Why, finally, are the 
demons so many times called by the Apostle 'princes of the air'? Far rather because 
of their great power over the air! The same is confirmed [secondly] not only by 


of the Devil, can produce hail:^ "They toss pieces of flint behind 
them, towards the west. Sometimes they throw sand from river- 
bottoms into the air. Often they dip a broom in water and make a 
sprinkUng motion at the sky. Or they dig a httle ditch, fill it with 
water or urine, and stir the liquid with a finger. Then again they 
boil hog-bristles in kettles, or set boards or timbers criss-cross on a 
river-bank. . . . Thus they make believe that the hail comes through 
their doings, whereas really it comes of the Devil, God permitting." 
206. Weier denies that witches have any powers, but he con- 
cedes that the Devil has, God permitting. Such the interpretation 
he devised in striving to save the unhappy women who were being 
sent to the stake. He may have taken it seriously himself, and such 
deviousness may have been required in an age when law and custom 
cramped free expression of thought.^ Few people went as far as 

the ancient Law of the XII Tables . . . but by the decrees of Emperors and Popes. 
It is confirmed [thirdly] by all those Fathers whom I have quoted. . . . And 
fourthly, it is proved by history and by examples. Herodotus bears witness to the 
abating of winds and a storm by magicians at the time of Xerxes. [Not a word 
about the qualifying remarks of Herodotus (§ 193).] ... Of the Finns and Lapps 
Olaus [Magnus] writes as follows [Histoyia de gentibiis septentrionalibus, III, 16, 
p. 119 (Streater, III, 15, p. 47)]: "In olden times they put the winds up for sale to 
merchants, offering three knots on which a spell had been cast: untying the first 
they [the merchants] would get gentle breezes; untying the second, stronger winds, 
and the third, a whole gale.' " Just earlier, II, 9 (Louvain, Vol. I, p. 137; Cologne, 
p. 124), Del Rio tells the story of "Eric, King of the Goths, who could get a fair 
wind from any direction in which he turned his fur cap: and for that reason he 
was nicknamed 'Windy-Cap' {Pileits VentosusY' [Magnus, Ibid., Ill, 15, p. 116; 
Streater, III, 13, p. 45. In reading these passages in Magnus, Streater arbitrarily 
changes "ventitm venalem" to "viniim venalem," which gives a different cast to the 
anecdote, the game with the knots remaining a mere trick or curiosity. — A. L.] 

205 ^ De magis, veneficis, et lamiis, II, 6, 21. 

206 ^ Histoires, disputes et discours. III, 16 (Vol. I, pp. 357-58) : "Furthermore, 
those poor old women are slyly tricked by the Devil. For as soon as he has seen 
and foreseen some tempest or change in the weather by watching the movements 
of the elements and the course of nature — a thing he does sooner and more readily 
than any human being could; or as soon as he has understood that someone is to 
receive some plague by the hidden will of God, whereof in such respects he is the 
executor, he besets the minds of those silly women, and fills them with all sorts 
of insane ideas, and shows them this or that opportunity for getting even with 
their enemies, as by clouding the sky, stirring up tempests, and making it hail." 
That rascal of a Bodin, however, has serious objections to Weier's theory: De la 
demo72omat7ie, p. 235b: "As to what Wier says to the effect that witches cannot 
cause hail or thunder of themselves, I agree, and the same for killing people or 


Tartarotti, who ascribes the phenomena of witchcraft to natural 
forces and leaves His High-and-Mightiness, the Devil, the mere 
credit of foreseeing them, so following a doctrine that had been 
current for centuries in the Christian Church (§213).^ But he too 
appeals to the authority of Scripture, and judiciously balms the 
Holy Inquisition when he writes: "And here I could not, without 
blemish of grave injustice, dispense with paying a deserved tribute to 
the most revered and level-headed Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition 
of Rome, which on these matters is guided by such moderation and 
caution as unmistakably to manifest the spirit and motive by which 
it is inspired, regardless of the unjust insults and the groundless com- 
plaints that heretics keep hurling at it." ^ 

207. In our time we may say what we please about witches, but 
not about sex; and just as in days gone by, whether out of convic- 
tion or from a desire to please people who in this connection can 
only be called ignorant fanatics, governments persecuted individuals 
who discussed the Bible freely, so in our day, and for similar rea- 
sons, governments prosecute individuals who discuss sex without 
due caution. Lucretius was free to speak his mind both on the re- 
ligion of the gods and on the religion of sex. 

208. In those days the heretic was called a criminal. So is the sex 
heretic today. To read what Bodin wrote of Weier is to read what 

causing them to die by means of wax images and incantadons. But what cannot 
be denied, and Wier himself agrees on that score, is that Sathan causes people, ani- 
mals, and crops to die, if God does not keep him from it, and that that he does by 
way of the sacrifices, 'wishes,' and prayers of sorcerers, with the just permission of 
God, who uses His enemies to get even with His enemies." Bodin certainly knew 
a great deal about other people's business! 

206 ^ Del congresso nottiirno delle lammte, 11, 16, 7 (pp. 189-90): "There 
seems to be somewhat more persuasive force in the fact that these individuals boast, 
for example, of raising tempests or of causing the death of this person or that, and 
that there are trustworthy witnesses to the fact that things afterwards take place 
exactly as they predict. But that too can easily be explained on the assumption of 
illusion, by saying that the Devil, in order to give his followers a high opinion of 
his powers, loves to ascribe natural happenings to himself, foresees them, and in- 
cites witches to produce them; and thereupon they occur, not of his power, much 
less by the power of the witches, but because they were destined to occur according 
to natural course of nature." 

206 ^Ibid., I, 10, I (p. 63). 


Senator Berenger and his brethren say today of people whose minds 
are not as narrow as their own.^ 

209. There is another analogy that sheds light on the nature of 
non-logical behaviour. As we noted in § 199, interpretations had to 
adapt themselves to popular prejudices, and so did law and penal 
procedure. The records of many many trials for witchcraft show that 
what happens is this: public rumour first designates the witch; 
public frenzy then assails and persecutes her; finally public authority 
is compelled to interfere. Here is one example among the countless 
that might be mentioned: In the year 1546, in the barony of Viry, 
a certain Marguerite Moral, wife of Jean Girard, complains to the 
chatelain of the barony that certain women have attacked and beaten 
her, at the same time calling her a witch (hyrige). The chatelain 
proceeds against the defendants and learns from them that Mar- 
guerite is accused of having caused the deaths of certain children. 
Exactly as would be done today, he investigates in order to ascertain 
whether the charges made against Marguerite are true. At first the 
plaintiff, she is now the defendant! The charge next extends to 
Marguerite's husband. Many witnesses testify that the children died, 
presumably through practices by Marguerite. She and her husband 
are put to torture and of course say whatever they are asked to say. 
They confess to intercourse with the Devil, just as they would have 
confessed to administering poison, or anything else. Both accord- 
ingly are condemned to the stake and burned.^ 

208 1 Op. cit., p. 240b: "So then we are asked to condemn all antiquity as igno- 
rant and mistaken, cancel all history, and draw a line through all laws human and 
divine as false, illusory, and based on false principles; and in place of all that set 
up the judgment of this man Wier and a few other sorcerers who are working 
hand in hand to establish and consolidate the empire of Sathan, as Wier cannot 
deny, if he has not lost all shame." 

209 ^ Duval, Proces des sorciers a Viry, pp. 88-108: "Marguerite [Moral] . . . 
files complaint and criminal action before us, Claude Dupuis, chatelain of this 
barony, in due and proper form, against . . . [names of three women] alleging 
that on the twenty-ninth day of April at noontime, the said Marguerite coming 
from the fields from weeding her beans and being in her yard gathering greens, 
the said defendants came up each carrying a stick of wood in hand, and saying 
such words as 'Deceitful witch, you have got to go to Viry'; whereupon they began 
to beat the said plaintiff on her body with all their might and also ded her arms 
Vv'ith a rope so that she could not move." The defendants are questioned and 


210. In this instance interpretations play a very minor role. In 
the forefront stands the notion that death can be inflicted in some 
mysterious manner; and that concept works primarily on the minds 
of the plain people. The judges accept it too; but had it not been 
for the other notion that the truth can be ascertained by torture, 
one could not be sure what the outcome of the trial would have been. 
In a word, it is clearly apparent that public opinion is influencing 
the judges and that except for it they would have taken no action. 
So in our day governments have never taken action against sex 
heresy until after persistent agitation by that pestilential breed of , 
individuals that forgathers in societies for the promotion of morality 
and conventions for the suppression of pornography; and our 
modern legislators, like our modern judges, for the most part accede 

". . . declare that they know nothing, that they did in no way beat the said Mar- 
guerite, and would not have thought of doing so. They confess nevertheless that 
they said and called her a witch to her face, because many others so called her and 
almost everybody who knew her, especially since, after the death of the child of 
Pierre Testu, otherwise known as Grangier, the said Marguerite had fled, because 
people said that she had killed it." The trial continues, the chatelain hearing sev- 
eral witnesses. Some of them know nothing. Others testify corroborating Mar- 
guerite's charge that she had been beaten. But the chatelain and his jury are not 
convinced. And since the defendants accused of the assault and battery "have con- 
fessed that they said and rebuked the said Marguerite that she was a witch, which 
is a very serious charge," they order an investigation by criminal procedure (tor- 
ture) to ascertain what truth there may be in it. So Marguerite the plaintiff becomes 
Marguerite the defendant. Several witnesses are heard. They mention a number of 
children who have died, they allege, because of Marguerite. One of them testifies 
that she had a quarrel with a certain woman named Andree "and a little after one 
of her children died and also a child of her brother, Claude, under mysterious cir- 
cumstances." In our day, there would have been an inquest to determine whether 
any poison had been administered. In those days it was not considered necessary 
that a material cause of death be shown. "Before the said children fell ill, the said 
Marguerite walked into the house of the witness, took a seat in the middle between 
the cradles of the said children, asking the said Andree if she had a place where 
she could leave certain linen. . . . The said Andree refusing, the said Marguerite 
was angry and wroth, and immediately afterwards the said children fell ill and 
died" — and the witness believed for that reason that they had been killed by Mar- 
guerite. Other evidence of the same kind is brought against Marguerite. One witness 
avers "that that was her fame and reputation in the village of Vers and every- 
where where she was known, and that many people had said and charged to her 
face that she was a witch without her making any objection or taking any [legal] 


reluctantly, and do their best to mitigate at least the hysterical 
frenzies of the sex-reformers. 

211. Witches were being burned as late as the eighteenth century, 
and in doing such things governments and the Church were abet- 
ting popular superstition and so contributed to strengthening it; 
but they certainly were not the authors of it. Far from enforcing 
belief in such non-logical actions in the beginning, the Church 
found that belief forced upon it and sought to find logical interpreta- 
tions for it. Only later did the Church altogether accept it, with the 
correctives supplied by its interpretations. 

A writer who cannot be suspected of partiality to the CathoHc 
Church says : "The slight attention paid in the thirteenth century by 
the Church to a crime so abhorrent as sorcery is proved by the fact 
that when the Inquisition was organized it was for a considerable 
time restrained from jurisdiction over this class of offences. In 1248 
the Council of Valence, while prescribing to inquisitors the course 
to be pursued with heretics, directs sorcerers to be delivered to the 
bishops, to be imprisoned or otherwise punished [Labbe, Vol. XIV, 
p. 115, cap. 12]. In various councils, moreover, during the next 
sixty years the matter is alluded to, showing that it was constantly be- 
coming an object of increased solicitude, but the penalty threatened 
is only excommunication. In that of Treves, for instance, in 1310, 
which is very full in its description of the forbidden arts [Labbe, 
Vol. XIV, pp. 1450-51, cap. 79-84], all parish priests are ordered to 
prohibit them; but the penalty proposed for disobedience is only 
withdrawal of the sacraments, to be followed, in case of continued 
obduracy, by excommunication and other remedies of the law ad- 
ministered by the Ordinaries; thus manifesting a leniency almost 
inexplicable. That the Church, indeed, was disposed to be more 
rational than the people is visible in a case occuring in 1279 at Ruf- 
fach, in Alsace, when a Dominican nun was accused of having bap- 
tized a waxen image after the fashion of those who desired either 
to destroy an enemy or to win a lover. The peasants carried her to 


a field and would have burned her, had she not been rescued by 
the friars." ^ 

212. People who see logical actions everywhere are therefore in 
error when they blame Catholic theology for the persecutions of 
witches. Such persecutions, incidentally, were as common among 
Protestants as among Catholics. Belief in magic belongs to all ages 

211 ^ Lea, History of the Inquisition, Vol. Ill, pp. 433-34. Fertile is also of the 
same opinion. Storia del diritto italiano, Vol. V, pp. 447-48: "And the Church pro- 
ceeded mildly, excommunicating practitioners of magic, subjecting them to canonical 
penances. . . . Nor did it abandon that system even later, when, in the thirteenth 
century, faith had been weakened by the reversion to paganism, and the spread of 
a neo-Manicheism in the sects of the Catharists ["Perfects"] and the Patarins, and 
older superstitions were coming to life again stronger than ever." But at this point 
the author, a man writing in our day, feels called upon to pass judgment on beliefs 
that he terms superstitious: "They were in truth very wicked notions not only in- 
volving belief in commerce with the Devil, in compacts with him in exchange for 
one's soul, and in powers obtained from him by calling on his name, consecrating 
oneself to him, worshipping him; but also involving something much worse — abuse 
of most sacred things." What this good soul calls "very wicked," others regard as 
objectively ridiculous and subjectively pathological! But such the power of certain 
sentiments! Here we have a man who is not a churchman writing towards the end 
of the nineteenth century, but who seemingly takes pacts with the Devil seriously, 
and calls them "wicked"; whereas many modern theologians are at least very scepti- 
cal, as witness the Dictionnaire encyclopedique de la theologie catholiqtie, s.v. Magie 
(Wetzer, s.v. Zattherei): "The main question ... is to determine whether demons 
can enter the special service of a human being. That question cannot be answered in 
the negative a priori. . . . Then a secondary question arises as to the manner in which 
the relationship of service between demon and human being is established. Popular 
belief answers [both questions] by assuming that the Devil can be 'conjured up' 
and thereby constrained to serve the human being. But that commonplace fancy 
cannot have our assent. . . . The stories that were so readily abused in a day gone 
by in that connexion . . . undoubtedly originated in the boastings or in the un- 
healthy imaginations of self-styled possessors of powers, and not one of them de- 
serves the slightest credence. 

"Another view, which was held by many theologians and played a part of some 
importance in the days of the prosecutions for witchcraft, held that the human being 
can strike a compact with the Devil and so bind him to certain services. The nego- 
tiation of the contract was regarded now as a literal objective procedure, now as 
subjective but no less literal, now as implicit, now as explicit. As for the objective 
reality, the contract may be thought of as made either by a person in possession 
of his right mind or by one in the sickly condition of the ecstatic. ... As for direct 
commerce with the Devil . . . the notion is so vulgar that we may be excused from 
dwelling on it longer." The writer of this article recognizes that there may be such 
a compact in the ecstadc condition: "But it is readily apparent that such a pact could 


and all peoples. Interpretations are the servants, not the masters, of 
the thing.^ 

Other writers, such as Michelet in his Sorciere, find the cause of 
the witchcraft superstition in feudalism. But where was feudalism 
when the Roman Laws of the XII Tables were penalizing people 
who laid curses on harvests? When people were believing in the 
witches of Thessaly? When Apuleius was being accused of using 
love-philtres to win the favour of the lady he married — not to men- 
tion countless other cases? The truth is, Michelet's interpretation is 
an exact counterpart of the Christian, except that the "great enemy" 
has changed his name: he used to be Satan; now he is Feudalism! 

213. But to go back to the Christian interpretations. Even grant- 
ing that the Devil had no power to produce storms, there was no 
adequate reason for eliminating him altogether from such phenom- 
ena on that account. He could be brought in in another way by say- 
ing that he could foresee storms and therefore predict them. That 
explanation has been current from the earliest days of Christianity 
down to our own. The idea, in brief, is that devils have aerial bodies, 
that they can travel with great speed, that being immortal they have 
had long experience and can therefore know and predict many 

not be a contract in any ordinary sense. . . . Furtliermore the alleged pact may be 
something altogether subjective, as is the case with the lunatics known as demono- 
maniacs. In such cases the patient imagines he has concluded a contract with the 
Devil, but there is absolutely nothing in reality corresponding to his illusion. . . . 
As for ways and means of binding a demon to the assistance of a human being in 
the exercise of magical powers, we assert that none such exist, and that if the demon 
enters the service of a person, he does so of his own accord under the lure of the 
elective affinity between his wickedness and the wickedness of the person. . . . The 
Devil, moreover, is not above the laws of nature. ... He can do nothing that is not 
naturally possible in itself." 

212 ^ Cauzons, La tnagie et la sorcellerie en France, Vol. Ill, pp. 63-65: "Of all 
Catholic publications, Del Rio's book was responsible for more victims than any 
other. ... I say Catholic, for the Protestants had a generous share in prosecutions 
for witchcraft. If it might be hard to prove that they burned more witches than 
the Catholics, it would be just as hard to prove that they burned fewer. The certain 
thing is that persecution of unfortunates called witches raged violently in Germany 
and England, and more so than in Spain and Italy and even than in France, where 
witch-burnings were frequent, especially at certain times and in certain localities." 


things in addition to predicting the things they are going to do 

We still do not know why it is that certain rites happen to attract 
devils. Never fear! There will always be as many explanations as 
are asked for! St. Augustine imparts that devils are attracted to 
physical bodies "not as animals are by food, but as spirits are by 
signs compatible with their pleasure or by various sorts of stones, 
plants, woods, animals, chants, rites." And, with all his weighty 
authority, St. Thomas agrees that this is so.^ 

214. From the very earliest days of demoniacal interpretation one 
very grave question kept coming up: Could magic practised with 
evil intent be met with magic practised with good intent? Constan- 
tine would permit such things, but Godefroi, in his commentary, 
disapproves of them, on the ground that evil things are not to be 
done in order to achieve legitimate purposes. Such also has been 
the doctrine of the Church.^ 

213 ^ St. Augustine, De divinatione daemontim {Opera, Vol. VI, p. 581), III, 7: 
"Demons are of such nature that with the senses of their aerial bodies they easily 
outstrip the senses of terrestrial bodies, and in view of the superior mobility of the 
same aerial bodies they incomparably excel in speed, let alone the legs of any human 
being or animal whatsoever, the very flight of birds. Endowed with those two 
things pertaining to the aerial body, to wit, sharpness of sense and swiftness of 
motion, they tell and foretell many things that are known to them before they are 
perceived by humans in view of the sluggishness of human senses. In vievi^ also of 
the long space of time over which their lives extend, demons acquire far greater 
experience than can be acquired in the short life of a human being." Ibid., V, 9: "It 
should also be pointed out, while we are on this matter of foresight in demons, that 
many times they merely predict things that they are going to do themselves." Just 
as the physician foretells from external symptoms what the course of a disease is to 
be, "so in the trends and situations in the atmosphere that are known to him but 
unknown to us, the demon foresees approaching storms." TertuUian, Apologeticus, 
XXII, 10: "From living in the air close to the stars and in intercourse with the 
clouds, they have ways of knowing celestial forecasts {habent . . . caelestes sapere 
paraturas), so that they predict rains that they already know about." 

213 2 St. Augustine, De civitate Dei, XXI, 6, i; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa 
theologiae, I^, qu. 115, art. 5 {Opera, Vol. V, pp. 545-46: Uirum corpora caelestia 
possint imprimere in ipsos daemones). 

214 ^ Codex Theodosianus, IX, 16, 3 (Haenel, p. 868) : "To what extent enchant- 
ments are prohibited or permitted: The Law of Constantine the Great: Deservedly 
to be dealt with and punished by the severest laws is the science of those individuals 
who, armed with art of magic, are found to have worked {moliti, i.e., moliti esse) 
to the hurt of human beings or to have turned chaste minds to lechery. Not action- 


215. For that matter, there are plenty of legitimate recourses, quite 
apart from exorcisms and spiritual exercises, and all demonologists 
go into them at length. Sprenger and Kramer, for instance, give the 
following instructions (Summers, p. 190) : "Against hail and storms 
the following remedy may be used in addition to the sign of the 
cross just mentioned. Throw three hail-stones into the fire, pro- 
nouncing the name of the Most Holy Trinity. Follow with the 
Lord's Prayer and the Angelic Salutation repeated two or three 
times. Then follow with In principio erat Verbum from the Gos- 
pel according to St. John, making the sign of the cross against the 
storm in all directions, backwards, forwards, and to the cardinal 
points; then, to conclude, repeat three times Verbum caro factum 
est, and say three times, 'In the name of this Gospel, let this storm 
cease.' Whereupon it subsides forthwith — provided it has been 
caused by witchcraft. These are held to be very sound practices and 
above suspicion [of heresy]. But if one throw hail-stones into the 
fire without invoking the divine Name, the action is held super- 
stitious. If one should ask, 'Cannot the storm be quelled without 
hail-stones?' the answer is, 'Certainly, by using holy words in greater 
profusion.' In throwing the hail-stones into the fire the idea is merely 
to annoy the Devil while one is getting ready to undo his work by 
calling on the name of the Most Holy Trinity. It is better to throw 
them into fire than into water; for the sooner they melt, the sooner 
is his work undone. Nevertheless the outcome is all in the hands of 
the Divine Will." ^ More gibberish follows on the ways in which a 

able by any prosecution, however, are remedies sought for human bodies, nor those 
rites which are practised {adhibita stiff ragia) in good intent in rural districts to 
allay fear of storms for the ripened vintage or damage from stoning by falling hail, 
such rites injuring no one in health or reputation and, if successful {quorum actus), 
serving only to prevent ruination of the gifts of God (diciiia muiiem) and the 
labours of men." The same law appears in the Codex Justiniani, IX, 18, 4 {Corpus 
iuris civilis, Vol. II, p. 595; Scott, Vol. XV, p. 32). This enactment was abrogated 
by the Emperor Leo, Novellae, 65, Ad Stylianum, De incantatorum poena {Corpus 
iuris civilis accademicum Parisiense, p. 1151; Scott, Vol. XVII, p. 262). 

215 '^Malleus maleficarum, Pars II, quaestio 2, cap. 7 (Summers, p. 188): "As to 
remedies against hail and lightning, and for spells cast upon catde." The Malleus 
mentions other remedies besides. On being asked by a judge (Summers, p. 190) 
"whether hail-storms caused by witchcraft could be abated in any way," a witch 


hail-Storm can be caused or prevented. Del Rio lists numberless rem- 
edies, natural and supernatural, legitimate and illegitimate, whereby 
the mischief of witchcraft can be averted. 

216. Here we can stop, not for lack of material, for of that there 
is enough to fill a good-sized library; but because what we have so 

f' far said suffices to show the essential traits of the family of facts that 
; we have been examining, just as a certain number of plants suffice 
to show the characteristics of the family of Papilionaceae.^ 

217. The study just completed clearly shows the presence of the 
following characteristics in the family of facts considered (§ 514^): 

1. There is a non-logical nucleus containing, in simple compound, 
certain acts, certain words, that have specified effects, such as hur- 
ricanes or destruction of crops. 

2. From this nucleus a number of branches, a number of logical 
interpretations, radiate. It is impossible not to observe that in general 
interpretations are devised for no other reason than to account for 
the fact that storms can be raised or quelled, crops protected or de- 
stroyed. Only in cases altogether exceptional is the opposite observ- 
able — the case, that is, where the logical theory leads to the belief 
in the fact. Interpretations are not always clearly distinguished from 
one another ; they often interlock, so that the person accepting them 
may not himself know exactly what share is to be credited to each. 

replied: "They can, and in the following manner: 'O hail, O winds, I abjure you 
by the five wounds of Christ, and by the three nails that pierced His hands and 
feet, and by the four Holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that ye 
melt into water ere ye fall.' " The Malleus also mentions the time-honoured cus- 
tom of ringing bells. In our time bells have been replaced by "hail-cannon," with 
quite as good results. 

216 ^ We shall have to prosecute many other investigations of this kind; we shall, 
that is, be called upon to examine many families of facts in order to find in each the 
elements that are constant and the elements that are variable, and then to classify 
them, dividing them off into orders, classes, genera, species, precisely as the botanist 
does. In this case I have thought it wise to set before the reader by way of illus- 
tration by no means a large, but at the same time a fairly appreciable, fraction of 
the facts that I have examined in arriving at the conclusions stated. Lack of space 
will prevent me from continuing to do that for all of the other investigations we 
shall have to make. The reader must bear in mind that I mention in these vol- 
umes only a small, oftentimes a very very small, pordon of the evidence I have 
considered in making the inductions that I present. 


3. Logical interpretations assume the forms that are most gen- 
erally prevalent in the ages in which they are evolved. They are 
comparable to the styles of costume worn by people in the periods 

4. There is no direct evolution, such as is represented in Figure 5. 
Evolution takes the form shown in Figure 6. The pure non-logical 

Figure 5 

Figure 6 


action has not been transmuted into an action of logical form. It is 
carried along with the other actions that are derived from it. It is 
impossible to determine just how the transformation has taken place 
— for example, trying to establish that from the mere association of 
acts and facts (fetishism) people went on to a theological interpre- 
tation, then to a metaphysical interpretation, then to a positive in- 
terpretation. There is no such succession in time. Interpretations that 
might be called fetishistic, magical, experimental, or pseudo-ex- 
perimental are moreover often mixed in together in such a way that 
they cannot be separated, and very probably the individual who 
accepts them would not be able to separate them either. He knows 
that certain acts must have certain consequences, and he does not 
care to go beyond that and see how it all comes about. | 

5. In the long run, to be sure, degrees of enlightenment in people 
generally have their influence on the non-logical conduct in ques- 
tion, but there is no constant correlation in that respect. The Romans 
burned neither witches nor magicians, yet they were undoubtedly 
inferior in scientific development to the Italians, the French, the 
Germans, and so on, of the seventeenth century, who killed sorcerers 


in large numbers. So, also, towards the end of the twelfth century 
and the beginning of the thirteenth, those unfortunates were not 
persecuted at all, though beyond all doubt that age was far inferior 
to the seventeenth century in intellectual and scientific development. 

6. Belief in the non-logical conduct was not imposed by logical 
device of the Church, of governments, or of anybody else. It was 
the non-logical conduct that forced acceptance of the logical the- 
ories as explanations of itself. That does not mean that such theories 
may not in their turn have stimulated the belief in the non-logical 
V conduct, and even may have given rise to it in places where it had 
not existed previously. This last induction puts us in the way of 
understanding how other things of the kind may have come about 
and how we may be mistaken when, knowing non-logical actions 
only under their logical coating, we give the logical aspect an im- 
portance that it does not really possess. 

218. All the many cases we have examined in connexion with 
storms had something in common, something constant: the feeling 
that there are certain means by which storms can be influenced. 
There is besides a differing, a variable, element — the means them- 
selves, and the reasons given for using them. The first element is 
evidently the more important; so long as it is there, people experi- 
ence little or no difficulty in finding the other. It might well be, 
therefore, that as regards determining the form of society, elements 
similar to the constant element just discovered are of greater im- 
portance than the other, the variable elements. For the present we 
cannot decide the matter. Induction is simply pointing out to us 
one road that we shall find it advisable to explore. 

As often happens with the inductive method, we have found not 
only the thing we were looking for, but another thing that we were 
not in the least expecting. We set out to discover how non-logical 
actions come to assume logical forms, and by going thoroughly into 
a special case, we have seen how that happens. But we have seen, in 
addition, that such phenomena have an element which is constant, 
or almost constant, and another element which is very variable. Now 
science looks for constant elements in phenomena in order to get at 



uniformities. We shall therefore have to make a special study of 
these different elements — and that we shall do in chapters follow- 
ing (§182^). 

219. Meanwhile, other inductions loom before us, not yet as asser- 
tions, since they have been derived from too few facts, but rather as 
propositions that we must verify as we extend the scope of our re- 
searches : 

I. If for a moment we consider the facts strictly from the logico- 
experimental standpoint, the policy of the Church with reference 
to magic is simply insane, and all those stories of devils are ridicu- 
lously childish. That much granted, there are people who infer from 
the premises that the religion of the Church is equally unsound and 
is therefore detrimental to society. Can we accept that inference ? It 
is to be noted, in the first place, that the argument avails not only 
for Catholicism but for all religions, indeed for all systems of meta- 
physics — for everything, in fact, that is not logico-experimental 
science. It is impossible to concur in that opinion and regard as 
absurd the greater part of the lives of all human societies that have 
existed down to our time. Furthermore, if everything that is not 
logical is detrimental to society and therefore to the individual also, 
we ought not to find instances such as we have observed among 
animals (and are going to observe among human beings) in which 
certain non-logical behaviour proves beneficial, and even to a very 
high degree. Since the inferences are wrong, the reasoning must 
also be wrong. Where is the error? 

The complete syllogisms would be: a. Any doctrine of which a 
part is absurd is absurd; that part of the Church's doctrine which 
deals with magic is absurd; therefore, etc. b. Any doctrine that is 
not logico-experimental is detrimental to society; the doctrine of 
the Church is not logico-experimental; therefore, etc. The proposi- 
tions that probably falsify these syllogisms are: a. Any doctrine 
of which a part is absurd is absurd, b. Any doctrine that is not 
logico-experimental is detrimental to society. We must therefore 
examine those propositions closely and see whether they do, or 
do not, correspond to the facts. But in order to do that, we must 


first have a theory of doctrines and of their influence on individuals 
and society; and that is something that we are to attend to in the 
chapters next following (§ 14). 

2. The questions just asked in connexion with doctrines also arise 
in connexion with individual human beings. If we consider the con- 
duct of individuals from the logico-experimental standpoint, no 
name but "idiot" describes the man who wrote the absurdities with 
which Bodin stuffs his Demonomanie. And if we consider such con- 
duct from the standpoint of the good or evil done to others, dic- 
tionaries supply only synonyms of "murderer" and "knave" for in- . 
dividuals who as a result of such idiocies have inflicted the cruelest 
sufferings upon many many human beings, and brought not a few 
of them to death. 

But we at once observe that reasoning in that way we are extend- 
ing to the whole what in reality applies only to the part. There are 
examples a-plenty to show that a man may be unbalanced in some 
things, level-headed in others; dishonest in some of his dealings, 
upright in others. From that conflict two errors arise, equivalent in 
origin, different in appearances. Both the following propositions are 
false — equally false: "Bodin has talked like a fool and done great 
harm to his fellow-men; therefore Bodin is an idiot and a rascal"; 
"Bodin was an intelligent and honest man; therefore the things he 
writes in his Detnonomanie are sound and his conduct is exem- 
plary." We see by that that we cannot judge the logico-experimental 
value and the utility of a doctrine by a facile consideration of the 
reputability of its author; that we must, instead, travel the rough 
and thorny path of studying it directly on the facts. And there we 
are back again at the conclusion that will be reached by an examina- 
tion of doctrines themselves (§§ 1434 f.). All that we shall go into 
thoroughly later on. For the moment let us continue looking over 
the general field of non-logical conduct. 

220. Worthy of some attention is the logical form that the Romans 
gave to their relations with the gods. In general it is the form of a 
definite and unequivocal contract that is to be interpreted according 
to the rules of law. If we stopped at that, we should see in the fact 


a mere manifestation of what has been called the legal-mindedness 
of the Romans. But similar facts are observable among all peoples. 
Even in our day the devout chambermaid who promises a few pen- 
nies to St. Anthony of Padua if he helps her to get back something 
she has lost is acting toward that saint exactly as the Romans acted 
towards their gods. What distinguishes the Romans, rather, is the 
wealth and precision of detail, the subordination of substance to 
form — in a word, the powerful cohesion of one act with other acts. 
And in that we glimpse a manifestation of the psychic state of the . 

221. The Athenian Plato takes no interest in these associations of 
ideas and facts which disincline people to separate facts logically. In 
the Euthyphro (17) he scorns the notion that sanctity can be re- 
garded as the science of begging things of the gods.^ For the Ro- 
mans, and especially for Roman statesmen, the whole science of the 
relations of gods and men lay in just that. It was a difficult science. 
One had first to know to just what divinity to turn in a given emer- 
gency, and then to know its exact name. And since there might be 
doubts on such points, there were formulae for getting around the 
difficulty — for example, "]upiter Optime Maxime, sive quo alio 
nomine te appelari volueris" — "Jupiter, Greatest and Best, or what 
ever you prefer to be called . . ." ^ 

221 ^Socrates speaking (Fowler, p. 55): "According to that definition, holiness 
would be the science of asking and giving." That, substantially, was the opinion of a 
great number of Greeks. We have already said that the difference between Athens 
and Rome lies more in the intensity of certain sentiments than in their substance. 

221 ^ Macrobius, Saturnalia, II, 9: "It seems that all cities are protected by certain 
gods; and it was a secret custom of the Romans, unknown to many, that when they 
besieged an enemy city and thought they were on the point of conquering it, they 
'called forth' its tutelary gods with a certain ritual. For otherwise they did not think 
it possible to take the city, or, had it been, they thought it impious to make captives 
of gods. For the same reason, the Romans were careful that the name of the patron 
god of Rome should remain secret, and even the Latin name of the city." Macrobius 
then gives a formula for addressing the gods of a besieged city and another for 
consecrating cities and armies after worshipping such gods. But he cautions that 
only dictators and generals-in-chief could use them effectively: "Dis, the Father, 
Veiovis, Manes, or by whatever other name it is proper to address thee . . ." The 
words of the formula had to be punctuated by specified acts: "When he says 
'Earth,' he touches the earth with his hands. When he says 'Jove,' he raises his 


222. Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, II, 28, 2, remarks that no one 
knew what divinity to invoke in case of an earthquake — a most 
serious embarrassment. So "the ancient Romans, who in all the 
duties of life and especially in anything touching religious observ- 
ance and the immortal gods were very scrupulous and circumspect, 
proclaimed public holidays whenever they experienced an earth- 
quake or heard of one. But they refrained from naming the god, as 
their custom was, in whose honour the festivities were held in order 
that they might not bind the people to a mistaken rite by naming 
the wrong god." 

223. When wine was offered to a divinity, one had to say, "Accept 
this wine which I hold in my hands." These last words were added 
to avoid any possible misunderstanding, and the mistake in par- 
ticular of offering the divinity by inadvertence all the wine in one's 
cellar.^ "It is one of the principles of augural doctrine that impreca- 
tions and auspices of whatever kind have no value for those who, 
in starting out .on an enterprise, declare they attach no importance 
to them; the which is one of the greatest bounties of divine gracious- 
hands towards heaven. When he is acknowledging a vow, he touches his breast with 
his hands." Such things would be ridiculous if the idea were merely to make the 
gods understand. They are rational if words and gestures have an efficacy of their 
own. Virgil, Aeneid, II, v. 351: "The shrines and altars were deserted, for all the 
gods had gone away." And Servius annotates (Thilo-Hagen, Vol. I, p. 277) : "Be- 
cause, before the storming [of a city] the gods were 'called forth' by the enemy 
that sacrilege might be avoided. That is why the Romans would never let it be 
known under the tutelage of just what god the Urbs abided and the law of the 
pontiffs cautioned that the Roman gods should not be addressed by name lest they 
be tampered with (exaugurari) . And on the Capitol there was a consecrated shield 
with the inscription: Geiiio Urbis Romae sive mas sive joemina (whether male or 
female). And the pontiffs prayed as follows: 'Jupiter Optime Maxime — or whatever 
you prefer to be called; and he [Virgil] himself says, Aeneid, IV, vv. 'yj6-jj: 
'Thee we follow, holiest of gods, whoever thou art.' " 

223 1 Arnobius, Disptitationes adversus gentes, VII, 31 (Bryce-Campbell, p. 340). 
J. C. Orelli, the editor of Arnobius, annotates (Vol. II, p. 433): "In making an 
offering [to the gods] the ancients chose their words cautiously and exactly and 
always appended qualifications {leges) and conditions explicitly, lest they should 
bind themselves by some tacit obligadon; and this is evident from not a few in- 
scriptions." He gives an example. 



ness." " All that seems ridiculous if one is disposed to argue the sub- 
stance in logical terms. But it becomes rational if we premise certain 
associations of acts and ideas. If the sting of a scorpion is really to 
be avoided by pronouncing the number 2 (§ 182), is it not evident 
that when one comes upon an insect and would avoid its sting, one 
must first know exactly whether it is a scorpion or not, and then 
the number that has to be pronounced .^^ If it is the act more than 
anything else that counts, obviously when one is offering wine to a 
divinity one must do exactly the right thing and not some other 
thing. In any event all such ratiocination, whatever its value, oc- 
curred a posteriori to justify conduct in itself non-logical. 

224. Systems of divination in Rome and Athens differed no less 
than religions, and the differences lay in the same direction. Roman 
divination^ was confined to "a simple question, always the same, 
and relating strictly to the present or to the immediate future. The 
question might be formulated thus: 'Do the gods favour, or not 
favour, the thing that the consultant is about to do, or which is about 
to be done under his auspices?' The question admits only of the 
alternatives 'yes' or 'no' and recognizes only positive or negative 
signs. ... As for the methods of divination prescribed by the 
augural ritual, they were as simple and as few in number as possible. 
Observation of birds was the basis of it; and it would have remained 
the only source of auspices had not the prestige of the fulgural art 
of the Etruscans influenced the Romans to 'observe the sky' and even 
to attribute a higher significance to the mysterious phenomena of 
lightning. Official divination knew neither oracles, nor lots, nor the 
inspection of entrails. It refused to become involved in the discus- 
sion and appraisal of fortuitous signs, taking account of them only 

223 2 Pliny, Historia naturalis, XXVIII, 4 (2) (Bostock-Riley, Vol. V, p. 281). 
Cicero no longer understands these associations of ideas. In De dtvinatiotie, II, 36, 78, 
he says, speaking of Marcus Marcellus: "He used to say that whenever he was en- 
gaged on business of importance he made it his habit to travel in a covered litter, 
so as not to be interfered with by omens. That is very much like what we augurs 
do when we advise that all oxen about be ordered unyoked, in order to prevent 
'marred omens' [by both oxen in a yoked pair dunging at the same time]." 

224 ^ Bouche-Leclercq, Histoire de la divination dans I'antiqtiite, Vol. IV, p. 176. 


as they occurred in the taking of auspices. With all the more reason 
it refrained from interpreting prodigies." 

225. What the Romans could not find at home, they sought 
abroad in Greece and Etruria, where a freer imagination was creat- 
ing new forms of divination. In the importance attached to the plain 
association of acts and ideas we must seek the explanation of one of 
the most extraordinary rules of Roman divination, the rule giving 
a counterfeit augury the same efficacy as a sign that had actually 
been observed. "He [the augur] could . . . rest content with the 
first sign, if it was favourable, or let unfavourable signs pass and 
wait for better ones. Then again, he could have the assistant augur 
'renounce,' that is, 'announce,' that the expected birds were flying or 
singing in the manner desired — a practice, in fact, more trustworthy 
and which later became the regular procedure. This announcement, 
the renuntiatio, made according to a sacramental formula, created 
an 'ominal auspice' equivalent, for the purposes of the individual 
hearing it, to a real auspice." ^ 

225 ^ Ibid., p. 202. The same writer gives the following version of the ritual used 
at Iguvium, pp. 170-71: "The augur's assistant speaking from his station will pro- 
pose as follows to the augur: 'I stipulate that you are to watch — a hawk on the 
right, a raven on the right, a woodpecker on the left, a magpie on the left, birds in 
flight on the left, birds singing on the left, being omens favourable to me.' The 
augur will stipulate as follows: 'I will watch — a hawk on the right, a raven on the 
right, a woodpecker on the left, birds in flight on the left and birds singing on the 
left, being favourable to me on behalf of the people of Iguvium in this pardcular 
temple.' " Cicero, De divinatione , II, 33, 71 : "As regards fictitious signs taken as 
auspices {tit sint auspicia quae nulla sunt) those certainly which are customary with 
us, whether by the feeding of chickens or by lighming {de caelo), are. mock-auguries 
{simulacra auspiciorum) and in no sense real ones." And continuing, 34, 71: 
" 'Quintus Fabius, I beg you to be my augur.' And he answers: 'Gladly!' With our 
forefathers, an expert was used for such purposes — nowadays anybody will do. 
However, it does take an expert to know what 'silence' is — 'silence' being the name 
given in the taking of auguries to the circumstance where there is no trace of 
blemish. It is the test of the perfect augur to be able to determine that. When the 
augur says to his assistant, 'Tell me whether there seems to be silence,' the assistant 
does not look up, he does not look around — he answers blithely {statim): 'There 
seems to be silence.' Then the augur: 'Tell me if they are eating.' 'They are eating.' " 
Livy, Ab urbe condita, X, 40, ir, records an instance where an augury, though in- 
vented, was taken as favourable from the simple fact of being "renounced." The 
consul Papirius is informed by his nephew, a pious lad, that his auspices have been 
fraudulendy reported. Papirius replies: "Blessings on you for your conscientiousness 


226. The Romans dealt with substance according to their con- 
venience, at the same time paying strict regard to forms, or better, 
to certain associations of ideas and acts. The Athenians modified 
both substance and forms. The Spartans were loath to change either. 
Before the Battle of Marathon the Athenians appealed to Sparta for 
assistance. "The Spartan authorities readily promised their aid, but 
unfortunately it was now the ninth day of the moon : an ancient law 
or custom forbade them to march, in this month at least, during the 
last quarter before the full moon; but after the full they engaged 
to march without delay. Five days' delay at this critical moment 
might prove the utter ruin of the endangered city; yet the reason 
assigned seems to have been no pretence on the part of the Spartans. 
It was mere blind tenacity of ancient habit, which we shall find to 
abate, though never to disappear, as we advance in their history." ^ 

The Athenians would have changed both substance and form. 
The Romans changed substance, respecting form. In order to make 
a declaration of war a member of the college of Heralds (Feciales) 
had to hurl a spear into the territory of the enemy. But how per- 
form the rite and declare war on Pyrrhus when that king's states 
were so far away from Rome? Nothing simpler! The Romans had 
captured a soldier of Pyrrhus. They had him buy a plot of ground 
in the Flaminian Circus, and the herald hurled his spear upon that 

and virtue! But if the augur makes a false announcement, the responsibility to the 
gods rests with him. I have the report that the corn danced [when the chickens re- 
fused to eat it] and that is a first-class omen for this army and for the Roman 

226 1 Grote, History of Greece, Vol. IV, pp. 341-42. Ibid., Vol. VII, pp. 66-67: The 
Argives took advantage of these traits in their neighbours, the Spartans. At the time 
of the war against Epidaurus, while the Spartans were sitting inactive for the 
whole month called Karneios, the Argives arbitrarily decreed the month shortened 
by four days and opened hostilities (Thucydides, Historiae, V, 54, 3-4). [Smith, Vol. 
Ill, p. 107: "The Argives set out on the twenty-seventh of the month preceding the 
Carneion, and continuing to observe that day during the whole time, invaded Epi- 
daurus and proceeded to ravish it." — A. L.] On another occasion, they instituted 
a fictitious month of Karneios to keep the Lacedaemonians quiet. Knowing that he 
was to lead the Spartan army against Argos, Agesipolis went to Olympia and Delphi 
for an opinion as to whether he was bound to grant a truce. He was told that he 
was at liberty to refuse one (Xenophon, Hellenica, IV, 7, 2; Brownson, Vol. I, 
PP- 347-49)- 


property. So the feeling in the Roman people that there was a close 
connexion between a hurled spear and a just war was duly re- 

227. Ancient Roman law presents the same traits that are observ- 
able in religion and divination; and that tends to strengthen our 
impression that it must be a question of an intrinsic characteristic 
of the Roman mind asserting itself in the various branches of human 
activity. Furthermore, in Roman law, as in Roman religion and 
divination, there are qualitative differences that come out in any 
I comparison with Athens. Says Von Jhering,'^ "The written word 
or the word pronounced under circumstances of solemnity — the 
formula — strikes primitive peoples as something mysterious, and 
faith itself ascribes supernatural powers to it. Nowhere has faith in 
the word been stronger than in ancient Rome. Respect for the word 
permeates all relationships in public and private life and in religion, 
custom, and law. For the ancient Roman the word is a power — it 
binds and it loosens. If it cannot move mountains, it can at least 
transfer a crop of grain from one man's field to a neighbour's. It 
can 'call forth' divinities {devocare) and induce them to abandon a 
besieged city {evocatio deorum).'' 

226 - Servius, In Vergilii Aeneidem, IX, v. 52 (Thilo-Hagen, Vol. II, pp. 315-16) : 
"Thirty-three days after service of the demands upon the enemy, the College of 
Feciales sent their spear. But in the case of (lemporibiis) Pyrrhus the Romans were 
to make war on a power overseas, and they could find no place to celebrate the 
ceremony of a declaration of war by the Feciales. They accordingly arranged for a 
soldier of Pyrrhus to be captured, and caused him to buy a plot of ground in the 
Flaminian Circus, that they might comply with the rite of declaring war on hostile 
territory. Then a column was erected on the spot at the foot of the statue of Bellona 
and duly consecrated." The commander-in-chief of an army had to keep his 
auspices in order, and that could be done only on the Capitol. But how do that 
when he was in a distant land? A very simple matter! An imitation Capitol was 
built on foreign soil, and the auspices were taken there. Ibid., Aeneid, II, v. 178 
(Thilo-Hagen, Vol. I, p. 250) : "... Or a site was chosen for a tent in which 
the auspices should be taken. But this practice [of taking the urban auspices] was 
observed by the Roman generals so long as they were fighting in Italy, in view of 
the nearness. But as the Empire was extended far abroad, that the general might 
not be too long separated from the army by returning to Rome from long distances 
to take the auspices it was ordained that a plot of conquered territory should be 
'made Roman' in the district where hostilities were in progress, and the general 
could repair thither if his auspices had to be renewed." 

227 ^ Geist des romischen Rechts, Vol. II-2, § 44, p. 441. 


Von Jhering is only partly right; not words alone have such 
powers, but words plus acts, and in more general terms still, certain 
associations of words, acts, and effects that endure in time and are 
not easily disintegrated. In the often quoted example of Gaius,^ 
where a man loses his case by calling his vines vines instead of trees, 
as they were called in the Law of the XII Tables, one cannot see 
that the word had any decisive power. Certain associations of ideas 
had grown up and the Romans were loath to dissolve them, and 
worked out their law in deference to them. Anything new in juris- 
prudence had to respect forms in the various actiones legis. 

"Theories " as to the methods of voluntary transfers of property 
were very different in Roman and in Attic law. In Rome there were 
formal ceremonies for acquiring property — the mancipatio, and the 
in iure cessio,. which had a translative efficacy in themselves inde- 
pendently of any physical transmission. Nothing of the kind is to 
be found in Athens. If in some other places in Greece a sale is at- 
tended by formalities reminding one of the mancipatio, a sale in 
Attic law remains a purely consensual contract, which ipso iure 
effects transfer of title inter partes. In Rome, furthermore, the act 
of transmission is of great importance as a method of transferring 
property. In Attic law it figures as a mere fact, devoid of any trans- 
lative significance whatsoever. It appears as a simple means of dis- 
charging obligations, the transfer of title having previously taken 
place by virtue of the contract. Nor did Attic law, either, make the 
validity of a contract dependent on the observance of certain solemn 
forms. . . . Athenian law did not require any of the formalities 
commonly practised in other countries, such as sacrifices, or wit- 
nessing by a magistrate or by neighbours. Transfer took place in 
virtue of the mutual agreement, and there was no requirement of 
witnessing or of stipulation by written deed." ^ 

228. But the most striking trait in ancient Roman law is not so 
much its strict observance of the word, of the form, but rather the 
progress that it makes in spite of its adherence to associations of 

227 ^ Commentarii, IV, 11 (Poste, p. 494; Scott, Vol. I, p. 185). 
227 2 Beauchet, Histoiie du droit prive de la repttbliqiie athenienne, Vol. Ill, 
pp. 104, 151. 


ideas all the way along. The fact was clearly apparent to Von Jher- 
ing, though that scholar was primarily interested in another aspect 
of Roman law. After reciting several cases where ancient jurists sac- 
rificed meaning to the literal expression he adds, Op. c'lt., Vol. II-2, 
§ 44, pp. 458-59: "These examples seem to show that ancient juris- 
prudence adhered strictly to the letter in interpreting laws. Neverthe- 
less, as I see the matter, that opinion is to be absolutely rejected; and 
in proof I will give a list of cases in which jurisprudence undoubtedly 
departed from the letter of the law." 

Ancient Roman law was all form and mechanism and reduced 
freedom of choice on the part of litigants and magistrates to a mini- 
mum. Legal actions remind one of a grist-mill: grain was put in at 
one end and flour came out at the other. Says Girard : ^ "The role 
of the magistrate has to be clearly grasped. He does not judge. It 
would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that he formulates the com- 
plaint. His collaboration serves merely to lend an indispensable au- 
thenticity to the actions of the parties, especially to the action of the 
plaintifl. As in extra-judicial procedure, it is the plaintiff who is 
asserting his right in applying the legis actio. ... As for the mag- 
istrate, his role is that of an assistant, and if it is not a purely passive 
role, it is at least almost mechanical." He must be present, and he 
must pronounce the words that the law requires him to pronounce. 
But that is almost all. He cannot grant action when the law does not 
grant it, nor, in our sense, can he refuse it {dene gave legis actionem) 
when the law accords it ; ^ and if there is a trial, it is not he who 
passes judgment . . . the issue, formulated iii iure before the magis- 
trate, is decided in iudicio by a different authority. The task of the 
magistrate ends with the naming of the judge, a nomination made 
to a far greater extent by the parties than by him." 

229. We could continue marshalling such facts; for in all depart- 
ments of Roman law one can detect manifestations of a psychic state 

228 ^ Manuel elementaire de droit romain, pp. 973-74. 

228 ^ The notion is Cicero's, Pro Lttcio Marena, 12, 26. 

228 ^ This is a controversial point which we need not go into for the purposes we 
have in view — namely, to show, without entering upon details, diat the Roman 
magistrate played a virtually mechanical role. 


A, that accepts progress while respecting associations of ideas. De- 
tecting traces of it in the system of the legis actio, we also see traces 
of it in the formulary system, and it altogether controls in the whole 
department of so-called legal fictions. Legal fictions are to be noted 
among all peoples in certain stages of their history; but the extent 
of their development and their long survival are quite remarkable 
in the case of ancient Rome, as they are in the case of modern Eng- 

230. Similar phenomena are observable in the various aspects of 
political life. As the result of an evolution common to the majority 
of Greek and Latin cities, the king was superseded by new magis- 
trates in Athens, Sparta, and Rome. But in Athens both substance 
and forms were completely changed; in Sparta changes were less 
marked both in substance and in form; in Rome they were very 
considerable as regarded substance, and much less extensive as re- 
garded forms.^ 

In deference to certain associations of ideas and acts, the sacerdotal 
functions of the king passed, in Athens to the archon-king, and in 
Rome to the rex sacrorum; yet neither of those offices had any im- 
portance politically. From the political standpoint the king disap- 
pears entirely in Athens. In Sparta he is kept, but with greatly re- 
duced powers. In Rome he is remodelled with the fewest possible 
changes in forms. The supreme magistracy becomes annual and is 
divided between two consuls of equal power, each of whom can act 
independently of the other and can halt action by the other." "The 

230 ^ Mommsen, Romische Geschichte, Vol. I-i, p. 244 (Dixon, Vol. I, pp. 254- 
55): "Everywhere, in Rome, among the Latins, the Sabellians, the Etruscans, the 
Apulians, in all the Italic cities, in a word, as well as in the Greek cities, magistrates 
holding office for life gave way to magistrates appointed annually. Among the 
Greek cities Sparta of course is an exception. It is interesting that Rome and the 
Italic cities did not have an age of tyrants as Greece did; and the absence of such 
a stage in Italy was probably due, at least in part, to the psychic state of the 
Italian peoples, a psychic state more conspicuously noticeable in Rome. In Sparta, 
the two kings owed their royal dignity to hereditary succession; they presided at 
councils, administered justice, commanded the army, and served as intermediaries 
between Sparta and the gods." 

.230 ^ Traditions are all unanimous in showing that the consuls inherited virtually 
all the powers of the kings. Livy, Ab urbe condita, II, i, 7: "You may set down 


constitution* gave the consuls the right to expand their college, 
especially in time of war, by the addition of a third member exer- 
cising the more comprehensive powers of a dictator. Popular elec- 
tion of dictators did not come till a later date and by way of special 
exception. The dictator was named by one of the consuls, just as 
the king had probably been named in former times by the acting 
king [inier-rex]. This royal nomination had but one limitation — the 
fact, namely, that the consuls and their colleagues, the praetors, re- 
mained in office along with the dictator, although they deferred to 
him in cases of dispute." 

231. It is a most surprising trait in the Roman constitution that 
the higher magistrates, though in reality named by the comitia, 
seem to be named by their predecessors, "The most ancient popular 
election was not a choice freely made from a number of eligible in- 
dividuals. It was probably limited at first by the right of the magis- 
trate directing the election to make nominations. It is likely that in 
the very beginning exactly as many names were submitted to the 
people as there were officers to elect, and that, in principle, the voters 
could do nothing beyond mere acceptance or rejection of a pro- 
posed person, exactly as was the case with a proposed law." ^ 

Even in days more recent, under the Republic, the magistrate su- 
perintending an election could accept a candidacy {nomen accipere) 
or reject one (nomen non accipere). And later on it was further 
necessary for the presiding magistrate to consent to announce ("re- 

the origins of our liberty rather to the fact that the consular authority was Hmited 
to a year than to any diminution of the powers the kings had held. The first consuls 
kept all the prerogadves and all the ceremony of the kings." Cicero, De reptiblica, 
II, 32, 56: "The Senate, accordingly, held the State in the same balance in that 
period. . . . Though the consuls had a merely annual authority, in character and 
prerogadve it was a royal authority." Cf. also Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiqui- 
tates Romanae, IV, 73-75 (Spelman, Vol. II, pp. 277-81). It is unimportant, for our 
purposes, whether these traditions be more or less authenuc. In any event they reveal 
the psychic state of those who gave them the form they have or in part invented 
them, and that psychic state is the thing we are trying to stress. 

230 ^ Mommsen, Rbmisches Staatsrecht, Vol. I, pp. 216-17. 

231 ^ Ibid., Vol. I, p. 470. 


nounce," refiuntlare) the successful candidate, and if he refused, no 
one could oblige him to.^ 

232. We find nothing of that sort in Athens. There was, to be 
sure, an examination (SoxLi-iaala) to decide whether archons (who 
were chosen by lot), strategoi (generals who were elective magis- 
trates) and senators were fit to perform their duties; but that cer- 
tification of prerogative was something very different from the 
renmitiatio. Athens makes forms consistent with substance. Rome 
changed from kingdom to republic by dividing the functions of 
magistrates. She went back to monarchy under the Empire by re- 
combining them anew. In the long series of constitutional changes 
which took place between those two extremes, forms were as far as 
possible preserved even though substance changed. 

233. Towards the end of his life Caesar seemed inclined to depart 
from that rule. To a people like the Athenians such a desire would 
have been considered reasonable enough. The few Romans still cher- 
ishing old-fashioned notions were incensed at the dissociation of 
ideas and acts implied in it. Only by mistaking the part for the 
whole has it been possible to imagine Caesar's ruin as due to the 

231 2 Valerius Maximus, De dictis jactisqiie metnorabilibus, III, 8, 3, tells how 
C. Piso refused to "renounce" M. Palicanus, a notorious trouble-maker whom he 
considered unworthy of the consulate: "In this situation, as lamentable as it was 
disgraceful, Piso was almost dragged to the rostrum by the tribunes; and they [the 
mob] crowded about him on all sides, demanding whether he intended to announce 
Palicanus as elected consul by the votes of the People. At first he answered that 'he 
did not think the Republic had so far lost its mind that things would ever come to 
such a shameful pass.' 'Well,' they pressed, insisting on an answer, 'if things do 
come to that pass.-" 'I will not announce him!' he said." Aulus Gellius, Nodes 
Atticae, VII, 9, 3: "But the aedile who was presiding over the assembly said he 
would not accept the nomination and that it was not his pleasure that a recorder 
{qui scriptum jaceret: a scribe) should become an aedile." The same incident is 
mendoned in Livy, Ab urbe condita, IX, 46, 2. There are many other examples of 
the kind. Livy, Ibid., XXXIX, 39: "The consul, Lucius Porcius, was at first of the 
opinion that he [Fulvius Flaccus] si-ould not be recognized as a candidate." The 
Lex lidia miinicipalis , I, 132 (Girard, Textes de droit romain, p. 78), as reconstituted 
by Mommsen, expressly forbids "renouncement" of individuals reputed unfit: "Nor 
shall any of you take account of him from the comitia or the council, nor shall any 
of you announce anyone so elected by the comitia or the council against these things 
\t.e., principles]." 


extravagant honours that he arranged to have paid him. They w^ere 
but one element in a whole array of things shocking to such Roman 
citizens as still lingered in the psychic state of the forefathers/ Au- 
gustus found ways to respect traditions better. He is prevaricating 
brazenly when he says in the Ancyra inscription: "In my sixth and 
seventh consulates, after ending the civil wars, I restored to the 
Senate and the Roman People the powers that I had received by 
universal consent; and in honour of that action a decree of the Sen- 
ate gave me the name of Augustus. . . . Whereafter, though above 
all others in honours, I have held no greater powers than my col- 
leagues." " Velleius Paterculus, who showers most lavish flattery on 
Augustus and Tiberius, says that Augustus "restored to the laws 
their former force, to the courts their old prestige, to the Senate its 
pristine majesty, and to the magistrates their time-honoured au- 

234. There were still consuls and tribunes under the Empire, but 
those were no more than empty names. So under Augustus the 
comitia still met to elect public officials; and — what is more surpris- 
ing still and still better demonstrates the attachment of the Romans 
to certain forms — even under Vespasian a law was passed by the 
comitia investing the Emperor with power! At first blush it would 

233 ^ Cicero, Philippicae, II, 34; Dio Cassius, Historia Romana, XLIV, 1-3. Vel- 
leius Paterculus, Historia Romana, II, 56, 4: "Marc Antony, his colleague in the 
consulship and a man altogether ready for any act of daring, had brought great un- 
popularity upon him by placing the emblem of royalty upon his head as he sat 
on the rostrum for the festival of the Lupercalia, since he had rejected the offer in 
such a way that he showed he had not been displeased by it." 

233 ^ Text as constituted by Franz: "In consulattt sexto et septimo [postquam 
Bella civili'\a extinxeram, per consensum universorum [civium mihi tradita'\m rem 
publicatn ex mea potestate in Senatu\_s poptilique romani a^rbitnitm transtuli, quo 
pro merito meo Sena\^tiis cousulto Augustus appel'\l[^at~\u\_s'\sum, et laureis posies 
aedium mearum v[inctae sunt p'\u[bli\c[e'\ su[pe]rque eas ad ianuam meam 
e[x]qu[erna fronde co]r[o]n[a ci]v[ic]a posi[ta ob servatos civets, qu[ique es] 
se[t pe]r [inscriptionejm [t]e[stis meae] virtutis, clementiae, iustitiae, pietatis, est 
p\^osit'\us clupe\_us aureus in curia a Senatu populoque Rlo^mano quo^d, quam- 
quam dignitate omnibus praestarem, potestatem tamen nih\ilo'\ amplio \j-em habe- 
rem qtiam] con[l]e[g]ae mei." 

233 ^Historia Romana, II, 89, 3: "Restituta vis le gibus, iudiciis auctoritas, senatui 
maiestas, imperium i7iagistratuum ad pristinum rcdactum modum." 


seem that those Romans must have had a deal of time to waste to 
be going through with such farces! "Just so^ was Augustus made 
a tribune in the Roman year 718, and thereafter his successors. After 
a vote in the Senate, a magistrate, probably one of the consuls on 
duty, presented to the comitia a 'bill' {rogatio) designating the Em- 
peror and specifying his powers and prerogatives. ... So the Senate 
and the People both participated in the 'election.' . . . The form, 
therefore, was the form customary for extraordinary magistracies in- 
stituted under the Republic: first a special law, then a popular rati- 
fication. . . . The transfer of elections from the comitia to the Sen- 
ate, effected in the year 14 of our era, changed nothing so far as the 
imperial comitia were concerned: it affected only nominations of 
ordinary magistrates, and had nothing to do with magistrates the- 
oretically extraordinary." 

235. In such things the fatuousness of some of the logical reasons 
human beings offer for their behaviour strikes the eye very forcibly. 
The Roman jurists were not joking, they were in earnest, when they 
said that "it has never been questioned that the will of the Emperor 
has force of law, since he himself receives his authority from a 
law." ^ But after all, the legions and the praetorians must have 
counted for something! The unlettered dame in the story was think- 
ing straighter than the long-faced Ulpian when she said to Caracalla, 
"Knowest thou not that it is for an Emperor to give, and not to 
receive, laws?"^ 

234 ^ Mommsen, Romisches Staatsrecht, Vol. II-2, pp. 874-76. 

235 ^ Gaius, Commentarii, I, 5 (Poste, pp. 25-26; Scott, Vol. I, p. 82): "An im- 
perial 'constitution' is something that the Emperor has ordained by decree, edict, 
or notification (epistula). Nor has it ever been questioned that it has status as law, 
since the Emperor himself acquires his authority by law." Ulpian, in Digesta, I, 4, i 
{Corpus iiiris civilis, Vol. I, p. 66; Scott, Vol. II, p. 227): "The pleasure of the 
Emperor has the force of law, inasmuch as by the royal law ratifying his imperittm 
the People confers to him and upon him all its power and authority." The Institti- 
tiones of Justinian, I, 2, 6 {Corpus iiiris civilis, Vol. I, p. 4; Scott, Vol. II, p. 7), re- 
peat the same thing; but by Justinian's time all that was archaeology. 

235 ^ Aelius Spartianus, Antoninus Caracallus, 10, 2: "It may be of interest to know 
how he is said to have married his step-mother, Julia. She was a toothsome dame, 
and was sitting about with her body quite largely exposed as though by oversight. 
Said Antoninus: 'I would, if the law allowed.' And she is said to have answered: 
'Si libet, licet. An nescis te imperatorem esse et leges dare non accipere?' " Aurelius 


236. It is a familiar fact that the Greeks had no term correspond- 
ing exactly to the word religio. Ignoring questions of etymology, 
which after all would not get us very far, we may simply remark 
that even in the classical period religio in one of its senses undoubt- 
edly meant painstaking, conscientious, diligent attention to duties.^ 
It is a state of mind in which certain ties (§§ 126 f.) wield a powerful 
influence over conscience. If, therefore, we feel absolutely compelled 
to designate the psychic state in question by a word in common use, 

Victor, De Caesaribus, XXI: "He [Caracalla] was like his father in his wealth and 
in the marriage he made; for enamoured of the beauty of Julia, his step-mother, 
whose crimes I have already recounted, he sought her for his wife. Frowardly she 
exposed her body to his gaze, as though unaware of his presence — he being very 
young; and when he said, 'Vellem si liceret uti!', she, saucily enough, in fact strip- 
ping her shame of every veil, replied: 'Libet? Then, by all means, licet!'" In this 
form the anecdote must be fictional in character. Actually Julia was Caracalla's 
mother, not his step-mother. 

236 ^ Breal-Bailly, Dictionnaire etymologiqtte latin, s.v. Lego, derive religio from 
lego: "Religio meant 'conscientiousness,' and particularly conscientiousness in mat- 
ters of piety. . . . From that first meaning all others are derived." Breal's etymology 
is no longer accepted; but that is of scant importance, for neither in this case nor in 
any other do we intend to infer the character of a thing from the etymology of its 
name. Forcellini errs in representing as derived a meaning that more probably is 
primitive, but he states it very well: "Religio: ... 10: figuratively, minute and 
scrupulous diligence and care: Italian esattezza. Cicero, Brutus, 82, 283: 'Eius oratio 
nimia religione attenuata [His style was cramped by too great consciendousness]'; 
Idem, Orator ad Marcum Brutum, 8, 25: 'It was the wise and sound convicdon of 
the Athenians that they could listen to nothing that was not well-bred (elegans) and 
free from blemish; and if their orator was attendve to this fasddiousness on their 
part {quorum religioni cum serviret), he never dared utter a word that was insolent 
or distasteful': Italian delicatezza. 11: lusta muneris junctio [consciendous per- 
formance of duty] : Italian puntualita." 

One might caudon, meantime, that the primidve meaning of superstitio was not 
at all what we mean by "superstidon," but rather "excessive piety," something over- 
stepping the orderliness, the regularity, so dear to the Romans. Aulus Gellius, Noctes 
Atticae, IV, 9, 1-3, quotes a line from an ancient poem, "Religentem esse oportet, 
religiosus ne fuas," and the maxim means, he explains, that one should be "re- 
ligious" (observant of one's pious dudes) but not "supersddous" (not so observant 
to excess). And he cites Nigidius on the point: "'That is the connotation of all 
words of the kind: vinosus, tnulierosus, religiosus, tiummosus ("overrich"), which 
suggest immoderate abundance of the quality alluded to. So a "religious" man was 
a man who had bound himself to an excessive, overconscientious observance of his 
pious dudes (religione), so that the trait could be called a defect in him.' " Gellius 
condnues: "But in addition to the sense mentioned by Nigidius, by another shade 
of meaning {diverticula) a man of pure life scrupulously observing certain rules 
and keeping himself within certain limits may be called a 'religious' man." 


the most appropriate term, without being strictly exact, would seem 
to be religio.' 

237. An anecdote of Livy clearly brings out this scrupulous at- 
tachment to ties to the discomfiture of all other sentiments. A num- 
ber of soldiers, not wishing to obey the consuls, began to consider 
whether they could be freed of the oath binding them to their obedi- 
ence by killing them. After a time they came to the conclusion that 
a crime could not wipe out a sacred pledge, so they resorted to a 
sort of strike.^ It matters little whether this be history or fiction. If 
it is fiction, the person who invented it knew that his hearers would 
consider it quite natural to wonder whether killing a person to 
whom one was bound by an oath were a means of getting rid of the 
oath; and natural also to answer in the negative, not from any aver- 
sion to homicide, but because homicide would not be the effective 
way of cancelling an oath. This whole discussion as to the way to 
escape the consequences of a vow belongs to religio in the Latin 

238. And as manifestations of the same religio we must regard 
the numberless facts that present the Romans as a conscientious, 
exact, scrupulous people, devoted — even too much so — to orderli- 
ness and regularity in their private lives. The head of every Roman 
family kept a diary, or ledger, in which he recorded not only income 
and expenditures, but everything of importance happening in the 
family circle — something similar to the day-books which Italian 
law requires merchants to keep, but also covering matters alto- 

236 ^ Even if we stick to the Latin form of the word, some people will insist on 
understanding it in a sense altogether different from the meaning we wish to give 
it, whether because of its similarity to the word "religion" or because of other senses 
that the word has in Latin. It is my sad experience that no precaution can prevent 
people from taking terms in their ordinary meanings, and that no attention is paid 
to the definitions a writer gives, no matter how explicit and clear he makes 
them (§ 119). 

237 '^ Ab tirbe condita, II, 32, 2: "At first, it is said, it was debated as to whether 
they could be freed of their oath by slaughtering the consuls; but when they were 
told that no vow was ever cancelled by a crime, at the suggestion of a certain 
Sicinius they withdrew to the Sacred Mount [three miles from the city, across the 
Anio] in defiance of consular orders." 


gether foreign to the mere administration of the family property.^ 
239. It might seem that the rehgion of the Greeks, in which rea- 
son and imagination played a more important role, should be more 
moral than the religion of the Romans, which comes down to a 
series of fictions in which reason played no part whatever. The con- 
trary, however, was the case. We may ignore the scandalous adven- 
tures of the gods, and keep, rather, to the influence of religion on 
the conduct of daily life.^ For the Romans the physical acts of the 
cult were everything, intentions nothing. The Greeks too passed 
through just such a stage in an archaic period of their history: a 
murder was expiated by an altogether external ceremony. But they, 
or more exactly their thinkers, soon outgrew this materialistic for- 
malistic morality. "Even as there is no remedy for lost virginity," 
Aeschylus will cry, "so all the rivers of the world gathered into one 
avail not to wash the blood-stained hands of a murderer."^ Cer- 

238 ^ Cicero, hi Caitim Verrem, II, 23, 60: "We have heard of individuals not 
keeping books — that charge Vi^as made against Antony, but falsely, for his books 
were in the best of order. All the same there are some few examples of such repre- 
hensible conduct. Then again we have heard of individuals whose books are missing 
for certain periods — and one might imagine reasons to justify that conduct. But 
what is unheard of and altogether ridiculous is the reply Verres made when we 
asked him to produce his books. He said that he had kept them up to the consul- 
ships of M. Terentius and C. Cassius, but had ceased doing so after that." On this 
passage Asconius annotates: "It was the custom for each Roman to keep his do- 
mestic accounts day by day over his whole life, so that it might be apparent for each 
day what he had laid aside from his income, what his earnings from trade, business, 
or money loaned, and what his expenditures or losses." To the demand on his 
client, M. Coelius, to produce his books, Cicero replies, Pro Marco Coelio, 7, 17: "A 
man who is still a junior in his family {qui in patris potestate est) is not required 
to keep books." 

239 1 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanae, II, 19 (Spelman, Vol. I, 
p. 257): "One does not hear among the Romans of a Uranus castrated by his sons, 
of a Saturn devouring his children, of a Jove dethroning a Saturn and making him 
a prisoner in Tartarus; nor of divine wars and maimings, nor of gods in chains 
and made slaves of men. . . . {ovdi je n6?i£/iioi koI Tpavfiara Koi Ssafiol koI d/jreiai deuv 
■nap'avdpuTToic)." According to Dionysius even rites of worship were more moral 
in Rome than in Greece. 

239 ^ Choephorae, vv. 71-74 (69-72) : 

OlyovTi 6'ovTL vvfKpiKuv kSu'kiov 
aKog, irSpoi re vavTEq £k (J-iaq 66ov 


tainly one might expect to find a rectitude of conduct correspond- 
ing to such exalted thoughts. What we actually find is the opposite. 
In the end Rome got to be as immoral as Greece ; but originally, and 
even in the fairly recent day of the Scipios, Polybius could write, 
Historiae, VI, 56, 13 (Paton, Vol. Ill, pp. 395-97) : "So, not to men- 
tion other things, if a mere talent is entrusted to those who have 
charge of public monies in Greece, though they give bond to ten 
times the amount and there be ten seals and twice that many wit- 
nesses, you will never see your talent again; whereas with the Ro- 
mans, magistrates or provincial governors who have the handling 
of large sums of money respect their given word out of regard for 
their oath." The sacred chickens may have been ridiculous; but they 
never caused the Roman armies a disaster comparable to the defeat 
that the Athenians suffered in Sicily through fault of their sooth- 

240. Rome had no prosecutions for impiety comparable to the 
trials for daifSsia in Athens, and, much less, to the numberless re- 
ligious persecutions with which the Christians were to afflict hu- 
manity. Had Anaxagoras lived in Rome, he could have asserted to 
his heart's content that the sun was an incandescent mass, and no 
one would have paid any attention to what he said.^ In the year 

[iaivovreg tov x^po/^^'<^V 

(povov Kada'tpovreQ 'lovaav aTrji'. 

Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, vv. 1227-28 (Storr, Vol. I, pp. 1 14-15): "I do not believe 
that the waters of the Ister and the Phasis could wash away the crimes committed 
in this palace." An epigram in the Greef^^ Anthology, XIV, 71 (7) (Paton, Vol. V, 
pp. 62-63), gives an oracle of the Pythoness: "Stranger, enter a pure temple with a 
pure heart after touching the water of the Nymphs. The virtuous need only a drop, 
but a wicked man could not be cleansed with all the Ocean." 

240 ^ According to Plutarch, Nicias, 23, 2-3 (Perrin, Vol. Ill, p. 291), Anaxagoras 
disclosed his theories of eclipses only to a few individuals. But at that time such 
speculations were not tolerated in Athens. "Protagoras was exiled. Anaxagoras was 
thrown into prison and extricated by Pericles with great difficulty. Socrates did not 
deal with physical sciences, but was none the less put to death because of his 
philosophy." Idem, Pericles, 32, 2 (Perrin, Vol. Ill, p. 93): "A law proposed by 
Diopeithes made it an actionable offence to deny the existence of the gods and dis- 
cuss celestial things; and that brought suspicion upon Pericles because of Anaxag- 
oras." Diogenes Laertius, Anaxagoras, II, 3, 12 (Hicks, Vol. I, p. 143), says that 


155 B.C. the Athenians sent to Rome an embassy made up of three 
philosophers, Critolaus, Diogenes, and Carneades. Hellenophiles in 
Rome greatly admired the captious eloquence of Carneades; but 
Cato the Censor, mouthpiece for the spirit of the old Romans, 
viewed all such clever chatter as more than suspicious and urged 
the Senate to rush the business that had brought such individuals 
to Rome to the earliest possible close, "that they might go back to 
their schools and spout before the children of the Greeks, leaving 
young people in Rome to mind their magistrates and respect the 
laws as they had always done." ^ 

Cato, mark well, does not care to discuss the doctrines of Car- 
neades. He is not in the least interested in knowing whether or not 
their reasoning is sound. He is looking at them from the outside. 
All that captious hair-splitting seems to him to have no value. It 
can do no good and may do harm for young people in Rome to 
listen to it. Great would have been Cato's amazement had he known 
that some day people were going to kill each other to prove or dis- 
prove the consubstantiality of the Word or the second person of the 
Trinity — the Arian heresy; and rightly would he have thanked 
Jupiter Optimus Maximus for preserving the Romans from such 
folly (which, for that matter, in some instances, clothed a rational 

241. Athenian law, which was essentially logical and sought to 
settle questions on broad lines without embarrassments from a stupid 
formalism or too many fictions, should have been superior to Roman 
law. But everybody knows that the exact opposite was the case. "The 
Greek intellect,^ with all its nobility and elasticity, was quite unable 
to confine itself within the strait waistcoat of a legal formula; and, 
if we may judge them by the popular courts of Athens, of whose 
working we possess accurate knowledge, the Greek tribunals ex- 

Anaxagoras was accused of impiety by Cleon for liaving asserted that the sun was a 
molten mass. Plato, Apologia, 16, (14) (Fowler, p. 99), imagines Meletus as ac- 
cusing Socrates of saying that the sun is a stone and the moon an earth. To which 
Socrates replies: "You must think you are accusing Anaxagoras, friend Meletus." 

240 ^ Plutarch, Cato Maior, 22, 6 (Perrin, Vol. 11, p. 371). 

241 ^ Maine, Ancient Law, pp. 72-73. 


hibited the strongest tendency to confound law and fact. . . . No 
durable system of jurisprudence could be produced in this way. A 
community which never hesitated to relax rules of written law 
whenever they stood in the way of an ideally perfect decision on 
the facts of particular cases, would only, if it bequeathed any body 
of judicial principles to posterity, bequeath one consisting of the 
ideas of right and wrong which happened to be prevalent at the 

So far we agree with Sumner Maine ; but we cannot agree when, 
loc. cit., pp. 73-74, he ascribes the perfection of Roman law to the 
Roman theory of natural law. That theory was appended to the 
ancient fund of Roman law at a relatively recent date. Von Jhering 
comes closer to the crux of the problem. His description of the facts 
is excellent. As for the causes, what he calls "the rigorous logic of 
the conservative spirit" is nothing but the Roman psychic state, of 
which we have been speaking above, combining with logical and 
practical inferences that entail the fewest possible modifications in 
certain associations of ideas and acts. 

I will transcribe Von Jhering's paragraph, putting in brackets the 
emendations that I consider appropriate : " "If Roman jurisprudence 
found a simple and logical law ready-made, it owes that advantage 
morally to the ancient Roman people, which, in spite of its spirit of 
liberty, had submitted for centuries to a relentless logic [to the 
logical consequences of associations — which they would not have 
anyone disturb — of ideas and acts]. . . . The truth of what we have 
just said is apparent in the peculiarly Roman manner — so familiar 
to all who know Roman law — of reconciling an embarrassing logic 
[certain associations of ideas and acts] with practical requirements 
by devices of all sorts: make-believe, roundabout detours, fictions. 
The moral aversion of the Romans to any violation of a principle 
once recognized [resulting from associations of ideas and acts] stim- 
ulates and, as it were, crowds their intelligence to exercise all its 
sagacity in discovering ways and means for reconciling logic and 
practical exigency. Necessity is the mother of invention. . . . The 

241 - Geist des romischen Rechts, Vol. I, pp. 333-35 (Pt. I, § 20). 


second national trait of the Romans mentioned above, their con- 
servative spirit [conservative as regards forms, progressive as regards 
substance], worked in exactly the same direction, and it, too, was a 
powerful lever for their inventive talents in law. To reconcile the 
necessities of the present with the traditions of the past, to do justice 
to the former without breaking, either in form or in substance, with 
the latter, to discipline juridical intercourse and guide the progres- 
sive force of law into its proper channels — that for centuries was the 
truly noble and patriotic mission of Roman juridical science. [We 
can dispense with the mission, the nobility, and the patriotism.] 
Roman jurisprudence towered the greater in proportion to the dif- 
ficulties that it encountered." 

242. In statecraft there is better yet. We can only wonder how a 
system so absurd from the standpoint of logic could ever have sur- 
vived. Magistrates with equal prerogatives, such as two consuls and 
two censors; tribunes able to halt the whole juridical and political 
process; comitia trying to work with the complication of the aus- 
pices; a Senate without any well-defined jurisdiction — such things 
seem to be loose parts of a ramshackle machine that could never 
have functioned. Yet it did function for century after century, and 
gave Rome dominion over the Mediterranean world; and when it 
finally broke down it broke down because it had been worn out 
by a new people that had lost the religio of the old. Thanks to ties 
of non-logical conduct and to forces of innovation, Rome found a 
way to reconcile discipline with freedom and strike a golden mean 
between Sparta and Athens. 

243. The oration on the war-dead that Thucydides, Historiae, II, 
35-46, ascribes to Pericles and Cicero's oration on the responses 
of the haruspices offer a striking contrast. The Athenian speaks like 
a modern. The prosperity of Athens is due to democracy, to just 
laws, to the good sense of her citizens, to their courage. These traits 
in the Athenians make Athens a better city than the other cities in 
Greece. The Roman does not bestow so much praise on the knowl- 
edge and courage of his fellow-citizens. "However highly we may 
esteem ourselves, O Conscript Fathers, we have not been superior in 


numbers to the Spaniards, in physique to the Gauls, in shrewdness 
to the Carthaginians, in the arts to the Greeks, nor even to the 
Itahans and the Latins in the good sense native to our soil. But to 
all peoples and races we have been superior in piety, in religion, in 
that wisdom which has led us to understand that all things are ruled 
and directed by the immortal gods." ^ That seems to be the language 
of bigotry, and instead it is the language of reason, especially if the 
word "religion" be taken in the sense of the religio defined above. 
The cause of Roman prosperity was a certain number of ties, of 
religiones, which made the Romans a disciplined people. To be sure, 
Cicero was not thinking in just those terms — his theme was the 
power of the immortal gods — but the concept of the rule, of the 
tie, was not absent from his mind. He began by lauding the wisdom 
of the forefathers, "who thought that sacred rites and ceremonies 
were the affair of the pontiffs, and good auspices the affair of the 
augurs; that the ancient prophecies of Apollo were to be read in 
the Sibylline Books; and that the interpretation of prodigies be- 
longed to Etruscan lore." " In truth, a genuinely Roman conception 
or order and regularity! 

244. Among modern peoples, the English, at least down to the 
last years of the nineteenth century,^ have more than any other 

243 ^ Cicero, De hariispicum responsis, 9, 19: "Oiiam volumus licet, patres con- 
scripti, ipsi nos amemus, tamen nee numero Hispanos, nee robore Gallos, nee calli- 
ditate Poenos, nee artibus Graecos, nee denique hoc ipso huius gentis ac terrae 
domestico nativoque sensu, Italos ipsos ae Latinos, sed pietate ac religiojte, at que Imc 
una sapientia, quod deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernarique perspexi- 
?nus, omnes gentes nationesque superavimus." In the De natura deorum, II, 3, 8, 
Cicero makes Balbus say: "And if we were to compare our national traits with 
those of other peoples, we would find ourselves their inferiors or at the best their 
equals in many things, but their superiors and by far in religio, which means wor- 
ship of the gods." Note that religio is here defined as worship (cultu). 

243 2 Op. cit., 9, 18: ". . . qui statas solemnesque caerimonias pontificatu; rerum 
bene gerendarum auctoritates augurio; fatorum veteres pracdictiones Apollinis vatum 
libris; portentortim explanationes Etruscoru??: disciplina contineri ptitarunt. . . ." 
And see our § 182.^ 

244 ^ This qualification is necessary, for with the first decade of the t%ventieth 
century the government of England fell into the hands of Welsh and Irish fanatics. 
If that is not just a passing fancy but indicates a change in the character of the 
country as a whole, the England of the future will be nothing like the England of 


people resembled the Romans in their psychic state. English law is 
still replete with fictions. The English political system keeps the 
same antiquated names, the same antiquated forms, whereas in sub- 
stance it is constantly changing. England still has a king, as in the 
times of the Plantagenets, the Tudors, and the Stuarts; but he has 
less authority, less power, than the President of the United States. 
Under Charles I we see a civil war fought by the King in his Parlia- 
ment against the King in his camp. No Roman ever devised a fiction 
so far-fetched ! Even today the ceremonies connected with the open- 
ing of Parliament are archaic to the point of comedy. Before the 
Commons appears a pompous individual called the Gentleman 
Usher of the Black Rod, who invites them to proceed to the House 
of Lords to hear the Speech from the Throne. The Commons repair 
thither and then return to their own chamber, where the Speaker 
informs them with a perfectly straight face of something they have 
heard as distinctly as he. Immediately a bill has to be read, as a mat- 
ter of mere form, to safe-guard the right of Parliament to be the 
first to discuss public business, without going into the reasons for 
the convocation. English political organization is adapted to the 
needs of the English people, just as the political organization of an- 
cient Rome was adapted to the needs of the Roman people, and all 
modern peoples have sought to copy it more or less faithfully. That 
organization enabled England to issue victorious from the Napole- 
onic wars and has secured Englishmen greater liberties than the 
majority of European peoples have enjoyed. All this is now tending 
to change as a result of new customs and new habits that seem about 
to get a foothold in England. 

245. In our discussion so far we have had to use terms of ordinary 
language, which are by nature not very strict in meaning. Keeping 
for the moment to the terms "Athenians," "Romans," and so on, 
used in the foregoing — exactly what do they represent? Among 
ancient peoples they designated citizens only, not slaves and not 
foreigners. But do our statements apply to all the citizens in ques- 

the past. It is to the latter England, the only England very well known as yet, that 
I refer when I mention that country in these pages. 


§248 THE ELITE 1 69 

tion? From certain facts, acts, laws, customs, we have inferred the 
psychic state of the individuals who created those facts, performed 
those acts, accepted those laws and customs. Legitimate enough! 
But it would not be legitimate to pretend that they made up the 
whole nation, or even the numerical majority in the nation. 

246. Every people is governed by an elite, by a chosen element in 
the population; and, in all strictness it is the psychic state of that 
elite that we have been examining.^ We can, at the very most, go 
on and say that the remainder of the population followed the im- 
pulse given by it. An elite can change with changes in the individ- 
uals composing it or in their descendants, or even through the in- 

_ filtration of extraneous elements, which may come from the same 
country or from some other country. When only children of Athen- 
ian citizens could be citizens in Athens, the Athenian elite could 
change only through changes occurring in its individual members, 
or through taking in new members from the Athenian citizenry at 

247. Observable in Rome are not only changes of those same 
kinds, but also an infiltration of foreign peoples, now of Latins or 
Italians through an extension of the right of citizenship, now of 
miscellaneous elements of all sorts, even of Barbarians, by way of 
freed slaves and descendants of freedmen. Scipio Aemilianus was 
able to say to an unruly assembly of plebeians that they were not 
even Italians.^ We must therefore be on our guard against drawing 
hasty conclusions from the examples we have been quoting. We 
have, to be sure, found the characteristics of certain elites, but we 
have not solved the problem of their composition. 

248. These last considerations lead us to a point beyond which we 
begin to encounter a matter different in character from that so far 

246 1 The meaning of the term "elite" must not be sought in its etymology. It 
will be defined in Chapter XII. 

247 1 Velleius Paterculus, Historia Rom an a, II, 4, 4: "With all the assembly in an 
uproar he said: 'Many a time have I stood unmoved at the clamour of armed en- 
emies! How then am I to be stirred by the clamour of men like you who have 
Italy for no more than a step-mother?' " 


examined. It would be premature to go farther than we have gone, 
and dangerous to do so before we have finished what we have begun. 
Let us, therefore, retrace our steps. Our Httle excursion has served, 
however, to acquaint us with at least the existence of those other 
problems, which we shall come to in our later chapters. 


Rationalization of Non-logical Conduct 


249. The research just completed has called our attention — along 
with a number of incidental inductions — to the following facts: 

1. The existence and importance of non-logical conduct. That 
runs" counter to many sociological theories that either scorn or ignore 
non-logical actions, or else, in an effort to reduce all conduct to 
logic, attach little importance to them. The course we follow in 
studying the behaviour of human beings as bearing on the social 
equilibrium differs according as we lay the greater stress on logical 
or non-logical conduct. We had better look into that matter more 
deeply, therefore. 

2. Non-logical actions are generally considered from the logical 
standpoint both by those who perform them and by those who dis- 
cuss them and generalize about them. Hence our need to do a 
thing of supreme importance for our purposes here — to tear off the 
masks non-logical conduct is made to wear and lay bare the things 
they hide from view. That too runs counter to many theories which 
halt at logical exteriors, representing them not as masks but as the 
substantial element in conduct itself. We have to scrutinize those 
theories closely: for if we were to find them true — in accord with 
experience, that is — we would have to follow an altogether different 
course from the one we would follow were we to discover that the 
substantial element in the conduct lies in the things that underlie 
the logical exteriors (§ 146). 

3. The experimental truth of a theory and its social utility are 
different things. A theory that is experimentally true may be now 
advantageous, now detrimental, to society; and the same applies to 
a theory that is experimentally false. Many many people deny that. 
We must therefore not rest satisfied with the rapid survey we have 
made so far, much less with the bald declaration in § 72. We must 



see whether observation of the facts confirms or belies our induc- 
tion (§§72-73). 
4. As regards logical and non-logical conduct there are differences 
' between individual human beings, or, taking things in the mass, be- 
•, tween social classes, and differences also in the degrees of utility 
A that theories experimentally true or experimentally false have for 
[^individuals or classes. And the same applies to the sentiments that 
are expressed through non-logical conduct. Many people deny such 
differences. To not a few the mere suggestion that they exist seems 
scandalous. It will therefore be necessary to continue our examina- 
tion of that subject, on which we have barely touched, and clearly 
establish just what the facts have to say. 

250. Meantime, our first survey has already given us an idea, how- 
ever superficial, of the answers that have to be given to the inquiries 
suggested in §§ 13-14 as to the motives underlying theories, as to 
their bearing on experimental realities, and as to individual and 
group utilities — and we see that some at least of the distinctions that 
are drawn in those paragraphs are not merely hypothetical, but have 
i points of correspondence with reality. 

> 251. In the following pages we shall devote ourselves chiefly to 

running down non-logical actions in the theories or descriptions of 

social facts that have been put forward by this or that writer; and 

that will give us an approximate notion of the way non-logical con- 

>y , iduct is masked by logic. 

252. If non-logical actions are really as important as our induc- 
tion so far would lead us to suppose, it would be strange indeed 
that the many men of talent who have applied themselves to the 
study of human societies should not have noticed them in any way. 
Distracted by preconceptions or led astray by erroneous theories, 
they may, "as they that have spent eyes," have caught imperfect 
glimpses of them; but it is hard to believe that they can have seen 
nothing where we find so much that is of such great significance. 
Let us therefore see just how the matter stands. 

253. But for that purpose we have to take an even more general 
[^ view of things: we have to see to what extent reality is disfigured 


in the theories and descriptions of it that one finds in the literature, 
of thought. We have an image in a curved mirror; our problem is 
to discover the form of the object so altered by refraction. 

Suppose w^e ignore, for the moment, the simplest case of v^^riters 
who understand that the conduct of human beings depends, to some 
extent at least, on the environment in which they live, on climate, 
race, occupation, "temperament." It is obvious that the behaviour 
resulting from such causes is not the product of pure ratiocination, 
that it is non-logical behaviour. To be sure, that fact is often over- 
looked by the very writers who have stressed it, and they therefore 
seem to be contradicting themselves. But the inconsistency is now 
and again more apparent than real; for when a writer admits such 
causes he is usually dealing with what is — and that is one thing. 
When he insists on having all conduct logical, he is usually describ- 
ing what, in his opinion, ought to be — and that is quite another 
thing. From the scientific laboratory he steps over into the pulpit. 

254. Let us begin with cases not quite so simple but where it is 
still easy to perceive the experimental truth underneath imperfect 
and partly erroneous descriptions of it. 

Here, for instance, is The Ancient City of Fustel^de ,Coulanges. 
In it we read, p. 73 (Small, p. 89) : "From all these beliefs, all these 
customs, all these laws, it clearly results that from the religion of 
, the hearth human beings learned to appropriate the soil and on it 
\ based their title to it." But, really, is it not surprising that domestic 
religion should have preceded ownership of land ? And Fustel gives 
no proof whatever of such a thing! The opposite may very well have 
been the case — or religion and ownership of land may have devel- 
oped side by side. It is evident that Fustel has the preconceived no- 
tion that possession has to have a "cause." On that assumption, he 
seeks the cause and finds it in religion; and so the act of possession 
becomes a logical action derived from religion, which in its turn can 
now be logically derived from some other cause. By a singular coin- 
cidence it happens that in this instance Fustel himself supplies the 
necessary rectification. A little earlier, p. 63 (Small, p. 78), he writes: 
"There are three things which, from the most ancient times, one 


finds founded and solidly established in these Greek and Italian 
communities: domestic religion, the family, the right of property — 
three things which were obviously related in the beginning and 
which seem to have been inseparable." 

How did Fustel fail to see that his two passages were contradic- 
tory ? If three things A, B, C are "inseparable," one of them, for in- 
stance A, cannot have produced another, for instance B: for if A 
produced B, that would mean that, at the time, A was separate from 
B. We are therefore compelled to make a choice between the two 
propositions. If we keep the first, we have to discard the second, and 
vice versa. As a matter of fact, we have to adopt the second, discard- 
ing the proposition that places religion and property in a relation- 
ship of cause and effect, and keeping the one that puts them in a 
relationship of interdependence (§§ 138, 267). The very facts noted 
by Fustel himself force that choice upon us. He writes, p. 64 (Small, 
p. 79): "And the family, which by duty and religion remains 
grouped around its altar, becomes fixed to the soil like the altar 
itself." But the criticism occurs to one of its own accord: "Yes, pro- 
vided that be possible!" For if we assume a social state in which the 
family cannot settle on the soil, it is the religion that has to be modi- 
fied. What obviously has happened is a series of actions and reac- 
tions, and we are in no position to say just how things stood in the 
beginning. The fact that certain people came to live in separate fam- 
ilies fixed to the soil had as one of its manifestations a certain kind 
of religion; and that religion, in its turn, contributed to keeping the 
families separate and fixed to the soil (§ 1021). 

255. In this we have an example of a very common error, which 
lies in substituting relationships of cause and effect for relationships 
of interdependence (§138); and that error gives rise to still an- 
other: the error of placing the alleged effect, erroneously regarded 
as the logical product of the alleged cause, in the class of logical 

256. When Polybius stresses religion as one of the causes of the 
power of Rome (§ 313), we will accept the remark as very sugges- 


tive; but we will reject the logical explanation that he gives of the 

fact (§313')- 

In Sumner Maine's Anciejit Law, p. 122, we find another example 
like Fustel's. Maine observes that ancient societies were made up of 
families. That is a question of fact which we choose not to go into — 
researches into origins are largely hypothetical anyway. Let us accept 
Maine's data for what they are worth — just as hypotheses. From the 
fact he draws the conclusion that ancient law was "adjusted to a sys- 
tem of small independent corporations." That too is good: institu- 
tions adjust themselves to states of fact! But then suddenly we find 
the notion of logical conduct creeping stealthily in, p. 177: "Men 
are regarded and treated, not as individuals, but always as members 
of a particular group." It would be more exact to say that men are 
that in reality, and law, accordingly, develops as if men were re- 
garded and treated as members of a particular group. 

A little earlier, Maine's intromission of logical conduct is more 
obtrusive. Following his remark that ancient societies were made 
up of small independent corporations, he adds, p. 122: "Corporations 
never die, and accordingly primitive law considers the entities with 
which it deals, i.e., patriarchal or family groups, as perpetual and 
inextinguishable." From that Maine derives as a consequence the 
institution of transmission, upon decease, of the universitas iuris, 
which we find in Roman law. Such a logical sequence may easily be 
compatible with a posterior logical analysis of antecedent non-logical 
actions, but it does not picture the facts accurately. To come nearer 
to them we have to invert some of the terms in Maine's previous 
remarks. The succession of the universitas iuris does not derive from 
the concept of a continuous corporation: the latter concept derives 
from the fact of succession. A family, or some other ethnic group, 
occupies a piece of land, comes to own flocks, and so on. The fact of 
perpetuity of occupation, of possession, is in all probability ante- 
cedent to any abstract concept, to any concept of a law of inherit- 
ance. That is observable even in animals. The great felines occupy 
certain hunting-grounds and these remain properties of the various 


families, unless human beings chance to interfere/ The ant-hill is 
perpetual, yet one may doubt whether ants have any concept of the 
corporation or of inheritance. In human beings, the fact gave rise to 
the concept. Then man, being a logical animal, had to discover the 
'Vhy" of the fact; and among the many explanations he imagined, 
he may well have hit upon the one suggested by Sumner Maine. 

Maine is one of the writers who have best shown the difference 
between customary law (law as fact) and positive law (law as 
theory) ; yet he forgets that distinction time and again, so persuasive 
is the concept that posits logical conduct everywhere. Customary law 
is made up of a complex of non-logical actions that regularly recur. 
Positive law comprises two elements: first, a logical — or pseudo- 
logical or even imaginary — analysis of the non-logical actions in 
question; second, implications of the principles resulting from that 
analysis. Customary law is not merely primitive: it goes hand in 
hand with positive law, creeps unobtrusively into jurisprudence, and 
modifies it. Then the day comes when the theory of such modifica- 
tions is formulated — the caterpillar becomes a butterfly — and posi- 
, tive law opens a new chapter. 

257. Of the assassination of Caesar, Duruy writes : ^ "Ever since 
the foundation of the Republic the Roman aristocracy had adroitly 
fostered in the people a horror for the name of king." In that the 
logical varnish for conduct that is non-logical is easily recognizable. 
Then he goes on: "If the monarchical solution answered the needs 
of the times, it was almost inevitable that the first monarch should 
pay for his throne with his life, as our Henry IV paid for his." In 
such "needs of the times" we recognize at once one of those amiable 
fictions which historians try to palm off as something concrete. As 
for the law that first monarchs in dynasties have to die by assassina- 
tion, history gives no experimental proof of any such fact. We have 
to see in it a mere reminiscence of the classical jatum, and pack it 

256 ^ On the shores of the Lake of Geneva one may see flocks of swans each of 
which occupies a certain area of the lake. If a swan of one flock tries to invade the 
territory of another flock, it is attacked, beaten, driven off. The old swans die, 
young ones are hatched and grow up, and the flock endures as a unit. 

257 ^ Histoire des Romains, Vol. Ill, p. 411 (Mahaffy, Vol. Ill, pp. 398-99). 




off to keep company with many similar products of the scholarly 

258. Shall we banish from history the prodigies that Suetonius 
never forgets to enumerate in connexion with the births or deaths 
of the Roman Emperors, without trying to interpret them — for we 
shall see how mistaken such an effort on our part would be (§ 672) 
— and shall we keep only such of his facts as are, or at least seem to 
be, historical? Shall we do the same with all similar historical 
sources — for instance, with histories of the Crusades ? ^ 

In doing that we should be on dangerous ground, for if we made 
it an absolute rule to divide all our narrative sources into two ele- 
ments, one miraculous, incredible, which we reject, and another 
natural, plausible, which we retain, we should certainly fall into very 
serious errors (§ 674). The part that is accepted has to have extrinsic 
probabilities of truth, whether through the demonstrable credibility 
of the author or through accord with other evidence. 

259. From a legend we can learn nothing that is strictly historical ; 
but we can learn something, and often a great deal, about the psy- 
chic state of the people who invented or believed it; and on knowl- 
edge of such psychic states our research is based. We shall therefore 
often cite facts without trying to ascertain whether they are historical 
or legendary; because for the use we are going to make of them they 
are just as serviceable in the one case as in the other — sometimes, in- 
deed, they are better legendary than historical. 

260. Logical interpretations of non-logical conduct become in their 
turn causes of logical conduct and sometimes even of non-logical 
conduct; and they have to be reckoned with in determining the 
social equilibrium. From that standpoint, the interpretations of plain 
people are generally of greater importance than the interpretations 
of scholars. As regards the social equilibrium, it is of far greater 
moment to know what the plain man understands by "virtue" than 
to know what philosophers think about it. 

258 ^ [I read these sentences as interrogations. They are declarative in the original. 
Evidendy the paragraph has been transferred to this point from some place in 
Chap. I, Pareto neglecdng to establish connecdons. — A. L.] 


261. Rare the writer who fails to take any account of non-logical 
conduct whatever; but generally the interest is in certain natural 
inclinations of temperament, which, willynilly, the writer has to 
credit to human beings. But the eclipse of logic is of short duration — 
driven off at one point, it reappears at some other. The role of 
temperament is reduced to lowest terms, and it is assumed that 
people draw logical inferences from it and act in accordance with 

262. So much for the general situation. But in the particular, 
theorists have another very powerful motive for preferring to think 
of non-logical conduct as logical. If we assume that certain conduct 
is logical, it is much easier to formulate a theory about it than it is 
when we take it as non-logical. We all have handy in our minds 
the tool for producing logical inferences, and nothing else is needed. 
Whereas in order to organize a theory of non-logical conduct we 
have to consider hosts and hosts of facts, ever extending the scope of 
our researches in space and in time, and ever standing on our guard 
lest we be led into error by imperfect documents. In short, for the 
person who would frame such a theory, it is a long and difficult task 
to find outside himself materials that his mind supplied directly 
with the aid of mere logic when he was dealing with logical conduct. 

263. If the science of political economy has advanced much farther 
than sociology, that is chiefly because it deals with logical conduct.'^ 
It would have been a soundly constituted science from the start had 
it not encountered a grave obstacle in the interdependence of the 
phenomena it examines, and at a time when the scholars who were 
devoting themselves to it were unable to utilize the one method so 
far discovered for dealing with interdependencies. The obstacle was 
surmounted, in part at least, when mathematics came to be applied 
to economic phenomena, whereby the new science of mathematical 
economics was built up, a science well able to hold its own with the 
other natural sciences." 

263 ^ Pareto, Manuel, pp. 145-46. 

263 ^ Two very important books on mathematical economics are Osorio's Theorie 
mathematique de I'echange, and Moret's L'emploi des mathematiqttes en economic 


264. Other considerations tend to keep thinkers from the field of 
non-logical conduct and carry them over into the field of the logical. 
Most scholars are not satisfied with discovering what is. They are 
anxious to know, and even more anxious to explain to others, what 
ought to be. In that sort of research, logic reigns supreme; and so 
the moment they catch sight of conduct that is non-logical, instead 
of going ahead along that road they turn aside, often seem to forget 
its existence, at any rate generally ignore it, and beat the well-worn 
path that leads to logical conduct. 

265. Some writers likewise rid themselves of non-logical actions 
by regarding them — often without saying as much explicitly — as 
scandalous things, or at least as irrelevant things, which should have 
no place in a well-ordered society. They think of them as "super- 
stitions" that ought to be extirpated by the exercise of intelligence. 
Nobody, in practice, acts on the assumption that the physical and the 
moral constitution of an individual do not have at least some small 
share in determining his behaviour. But when it comes to framing 
a theory, it is held that the human being ought to act rationally, and 
writers deliberately close their minds to things that the experience 
of every day holds up before their eyes. 

266. The imperfection of ordinary language from the scientific 
standpoint also contributes to the wide-spread resort to logical in- 
terpretations of non-logical conduct. 

267. It plays no small part in the common misapprehension where- 
by two phenomena are placed in a relationship of cause and effect 
for the simple reason that they are found in company. We have 
already alluded to that error (§ 255); but we must now advance a 
little farther in our study of it, for it is of no mean importance to 

Let C, as in Figure 3, § 166, stand for a belief; D, for certain be- 
haviour. Instead of saying simply, "Some people do D and believe 
C," ordinary speech goes farther and says, "Some people do D be- 
cause they believe C." Taken strictly, that proposition is often false. 
Less often false is the proposition, "Some people believe C because 


they do D." But there are still many occasions when all that we can 
say is, "Some men do D and believe C." 

In the proposition, "Some people do D because they believe C," 
the logical strictness of the term "because" can be so attenuated that 
no relationship of cause and effect is set up between C and D. We 
can then say, "We may assume that certain people do D because 
they have a belief C which expresses sentiments that impel them to 
do D"; that is because (going back to Figure 3), they have a psychic 
state A that is expressed by C. In such a form the proposition closely 
approximates the truth, as we saw in § 166. 

268. Figure 3 can be broken up into three others (Figure 7). 


(II) \ (III) 


Figure 7 

I. The psychic state A produces the belief C and the conduct D, 
there being no direct relation between C and D. That is the situation 
in the proposition, "People do D and believe C." 

II. The psychic state A gives rise to the conduct D, and they both 
produce the belief C. That is the situation in the second proposition, 
"People believe C because they do D." 

III. The psychic state A gives rise to the belief C, which produces 
the behaviour D. That is the situation in the proposition, "People 
do D because they believe C." 

269. Although case III is not the only case, nor even the most 
frequent case, people are inclined to regard it as general and to 
merge with it cases I and II to which they preferably attribute little 
or no importance. Ordinary language, with its lack of exactness, 
encourages the error, because a person may state case III explicitly 

§271 ARISTOTLE 181 

and be unconsciously thinking meantime of cases I and II. It often 
happens, besides, that we get mixtures of the three cases in varying 

270. Aristotle opens his Politics, I, i, i (Rackham, p. 3), with the 
statement: "Seeing that every city is a society (Rackham, "partner- 
ship") and that every society (partnership) is constituted to the end 
of some good (for all men work to achieve what to them seems 
good) it is manifest that all societies (partnerships) seek some good." 
Here we stand altogether in the domain of logic: with a deliberate 
purpose — ^the purpose of achieving a certain good — human beings 
have constituted a society that is called a city. It would seem as 
though Aristotle were on the point of going off into the absurdities 
of the "social contract" ! But not so. He at once changes tack, and the 
principle he has stated he will use to determine what a city ought to 
be rather than what it actually is. 

271, The moment Aristotle has announced his principle — an asso- 
ciation for purposes of mutual advantage — he tosses it aside and 
gives an altogether different account of the origin of society. First 
he notes the necessity of a union between the sexes, and soundly 
remarks that "that does not take place of deliberate choice" ^ ; where- 
with, evidently, we enter the domain of non-logical conduct. He 
continues: "Nature has created certain individuals to command and 
others to obey." Among the Greeks Nature has so distinguished 
women and slaves. Not so among the Barbarians, for among the 
Barbarians, Nature has not appointed any individuals to command. 
We are still, therefore, in the domain of non-logical conduct; nor do 
we leave it when Aristotle explains that the two associations of 
master and slave, husband and wife, are the foundations of the 
family, that the village is constituted by several families, and that 
several villages form a state; nor when, finally, he concludes witli 
the explicit declaration that "Every city, therefore, like the original 
associations, comes of Nature." " One could not allude to non-logical 
actions in clearer terms. 

271 ^ Politica, I, I, 4 (Rackham, p. 5) : nol tovto ovk Ik Tvpoai/jtaeug . . . 

271 ^ I, 1,8 (Rackham, p. 9) : A(o ivaaa TrdXig <p'va£i kariv^ e'nrep Kal at irourat koivu- 


272. But, alas, if the city comes of Nature, it does not come of the 
dehberate will of citizens who get together for the purpose of achiev- 
ing a certain advantage! There is an inconsistency between the 
principle first posited and the conclusion reached/ Just how Aristotle 
fell into it we cannot know, but to accomplish that feat for oneself, 
one may proceed in the following fashion: First centre exclusively 
on the idea of "city," or "state." It will then be easy to connect city, 
or state, with the idea of "association," and then to connect associa- 
tion with the idea of deliberate association. So we get the first prin- 
ciple. But now think, in the second place, of the many many facts 
observable in a city or a state — the family, masters and slaves, and so 
on. Deliberate purpose will not fit in with those things very well. 
They suggest rather the notion of something that develops naturally. 
And so we get Aristotle's second description. 

273. He gets rid of the contradiction by metaphysics, which never 
withholds its aid in these desperate cases. Recognizing non-logical 
conduct, he says, I, i, 12 (Rackham, pp. 11-13) : "It is therefore mani- 
fest that the city is a product of Nature and is superior (prior) to 
man (to the individual). From Nature accordingly comes the tend- 
ency (an impulse) in all men toward such association. Therefore 
the man who first founded one was the cause of a very great good." 
So then, there is the inclination imparted by Nature; but it is 
further necessary that a man found the city. So a logical action is 
grafted upon the non-logical action (§306, I-/3); and there is no 
help for that, for, says Aristotle, Nature does nothing in vain.^ 
Our best thanks, therefore, to that estimable demoiselle for so neatly 
rescuing a philosopher from a predicament! 

272 ^ Similar contradictions are observable in metaphysical and theological dis- 
putes as to "free will," "predestination," "efiEcacious grace" (§ 280), and the like. 
Pascal well ridicules some of these incoherences; but, speaking as a metaphysicist and 
theologian himself, he replaces them with arguments that are worth but little 
more, and sometimes less. He had begun by saying, Lettres a une provinciale, I, p. 6: 
"I never quarrel over names, provided I am told what meanings they are given"; 
and with that he was almost taking his stand within the domain of logico-experi- 
mental science (§ 119). But he soon relapses, to go back to the domain of meta- 
physics, theology, sentiment. 

273 ^ I, I, 10 (Rackham, p. 11): OvBiv yap, ug (^afiev, fidrr/v i] (pvaic ttoleV. Rackham: 
"does nothing without a purpose." 


274. In distinguishing the Greeks from the Barbarians in his cele- 
brated theory of natural slavery, Aristotle avails himself of the con- 
cept of non-logical conduct. It is obvious, among other things, that 
logic being the same for Greeks and Barbarians, if all actions were 
logical there could not be any difference between Greeks and 
Barbarians. But that is not all. Good observer that he is, Aristotle 
notices differences among Greek citizens. Speaking of the forms of 
democracy he says, VI, 2, i (Rackham, pp. 497-98): "Excellent is 
an agricultural people; consequently one can institute a democracy 
where a people lives by farming and sheep-raising." And he repeats, 
VI, 2, 7 (Rackham, p. 503): "Next after farmers, the best people 
are shepherds, or people who live by owning cattle. . . . The other 
rabbles on which other sorts of democracy are based are greatly 
inferior." Here then we get clearly distinguished classes of citizens 
and almost a rudimentary economic determinism. But there is no 
reason for our stopping where Aristotle stops; and if we do go on we 
see that in general the conduct of human beings depends on their 
temperaments and occupations. 

Cicero credits the ancestors of the Romans of his time with know- 
ing that "the characters of human beings result not so much from 
race and family as from those things which are contributed by the 
nature of their localities for the ordinary conduct of life, and from 
which we draw our livelihood and subsistence. The Carthaginians 
were liars and cheats not by race but from the nature of their coun- 
try, which with its port and its contacts with all sorts of merchants 
and foreigners speaking different languages inclined them through 
love of profits to love of trickery. The mountaineers of Liguria are 
harsh and uncouth. . . . The Capuans have ever been a supercilious 
people, because of the fertility of their soil, the wealth of their har- 
vests, the salubriousness, the disposition, and the beauty of their 

274 ^ De lege agraria, II, 35, 95. In combating the Agrarian Law Cicero was try- 
ing to persuade his fellow-citizens that a colony established at Capua might become 
dangerous to Rome. For that reason he may not have been altogether convinced 
by his own argument. But we need not go into that. We are trying to ascertain not 
Cicero's personal views, but the opinions current in his time. And if he used the 


275. In his Rhetoric, II, 12-14 (Freese, pp. 247-57), Aristotle makes 
an analysis, which came to be celebrated, of the traits of man accord- 
ing to age — in adolescence, in maturity, and in senility. He pushes 
his analysis further still, II, 12, 17 (Freese, pp. 257-63), and examines 
the effects on character of noble birth, wealth, and power — a splen- 
didly conducted study. But all that evidently carries him into the 
domain of non-logical conduct.^ 

argument he used, it means that he thought it reflected the feeling of a larger or 
smaller element among Roman citizens. 

275 ^ One may also detect a certain conception of non-logical conduct in the fact 
that Aristotle ascribes the virtues — temperance, justice, courage, and so on — to the 
non-rational part of the human being. Magna moralia, I, 5, i (Stock, p. 1185-b): 
"Foresight, intelligence (quickness of wit), wisdom, learning (aptitude for learn- 
ing), memory, and other similar things arise in the rational part [of the soul]. In 
the non-rational one finds what are called the virtues: temperance, justice, energy, 
and all other moral qualities that are deemed worthy of praise." Aristotle's doctrine 
of the logical or non-logical character of conduct in general was perhaps not very 
clear — such doctrines rarely are. All the same he seems to have recognized non- 
Jogical elements, supplementing them with logical elements, and subordinating 
them to the logical. In the Politica, VII, 12, 6 (Rackham, p. 601), he says that three 
things make a man good and virtuous: ^vcig^ edog, ?i.6yog: "nature, habit, rea- 
son." As for the non-logical element, Aristotle admits that himian beings 
act, in part at least, under the influence of external circumstances, such as 
climate, soil, and so on. In Ibid., VII, 6 (Rackham, pp. 565-66), he clearly relates the 
conduct of human beings to such circumstances; and in De partibiis animahum, II, 4 
[An erroneous reference: read: Historia animalium, VIII, 28-29 (Thompson, pp. 606- 
07). — A. L.], he explains just how he thinks the relationship functions, in gen- 
eral, for living beings. The author (Aristode ?) of the Probletnata, offers, XIV 
(Forster, pp. 909-10), additional reflections on such relationships. So far we are 
within the domain of the non-logical. But the writer at once takes steps to be rid 
of it by a procedure that is general and which lies in subordinating it to logic: it 
becomes the material with which reason works. Magiza moralia, I, 11, 3 (Stock, 
p. 1187-b): "Judgment, will, and all that is in accord with reason, consdtute the 
principle of conduct, good or bad." Aristotle is not aware that in that he is con- 
tradicdng what he said, in the Politica, that people who live in cold countries are 
courageous. In this case, the "principle" of courageous acdon, that is to say, the 
"judgment and will" to expose oneself to peril, is determined, according to Aristotle, 
by climate and not by "reason." He thinks he clears his traces by saying. Magna 
moralia, I, 11, 5 (Stock, loc. cit.), that first requisite is help from nature, and next 
will; but ignoring any metaphysical quesdon as to the freedom of the will, which 
we choose not to go into, we still have the problem, first of knowing whether the 
two things that he considers independent are so in reality, and then in what propor- 
tions they figure in any concrete act. Going into that problem, one finds that there 
is conduct in which the first element, the non-logical, prevails, and other conduct 
in which the second element, the logical, prevails. 

Aristotle was lured from the scientific path, aside from metaphysical considera- 


276. Aristotle even has the concept of evolution. In the Politics, 
II, 5, 12 (Rackham, pp. 129-31), he remarks that the ancestors of 
the Greeks probably resembled the vulgar and ignorant among his 

277. Had Aristotle held to the course he in part so admirably fol- 
lov^ed, we Vi^ould have had a scientific sociology in his early day. 
Why did he not do so? There may have been many reasons; but 
chief among them, probably, vv^as that eagerness for premature prac- 
tical applications which is ever obstructing the progress of science, 
along with a mania for preaching to people as to what they ought 
to do — an exceedingly bootless occupation — instead of finding out 
what they actually do. His History of Animals avoids those causes 
of error, and that perhaps is why it is far superior to the Politics 
from the scientific point of view. 

278. It might seem strange to find traces of the concept of non- 
logical conduct in a dreamer like Plato; yet there they are! The 
notion transpires in the reasons Plato gives for establishing his 
colony far from the sea. To be near the sea begins by "being sweet" 
but ends by "being bitter" for a city: "for filling with commerce and 
traffic it develops capricious, untrustworthy instincts, and a breed 
of tricksters." ^ Non-logical conduct has its place also in the well- 
known apologue of Plato on the races of mankind. The god who 
fashioned men mixed gold into the composition of those fit to gov- 
ern, silver in guardians of the state (the warriors), iron in tillers of 
the soil and labourers. Plato also has a vague notion of what we are 
to call class-circulation, or circulation of elites (§§2026f.). He 
knows that individuals of the silver race may chance to be born in 
the race of gold, or vice versa, and so for the other races." 

tions, by that great enemy of all social science: the mania for achieving some prac- 
tical result. In the Ethica Nicomachea, II, 2, i (Rackham, p. 75), he says 
that he does not desire to confine himself to theory only: "For we study not to 
know what virtue is, but to become good; otherwise our study would be of no 
use." Aristotle had no other means of influencing others than logical argument; and 
so he was, as he had to be, inclined to make logic the controlling force in human 

278 1 De legibiis, IV, Aristotle, PoUtica, VII, 5, also discusses the advantages and 
disadvantages of proximity to the sea. 

278 2 Respublica, III, 21, 415 A. And cf. my Systtmes socialistes, Vol. I, p. 276. 


279. That being the case, if one would remain within the domain 
of science, one must go on and investigate the probable characteris- 
tics and the probable evolution of a society made up of different 
races of human beings, which are not reproduced from generation to 
generation with exactly the same characteristics and which are able 
to mix. That would be working towards a science of societies. But 
Plato has a very different purpose. He is little concerned with what 
is. He strains all his intellectual capacities to discover what ought 
to be. And thereupon non-logical conduct vanishes, and Plato's fancy 
goes sporting about among logical actions, which he invents in great 
numbers; and we find him at no great cost to himself appointing 
magistrates to put individuals who are born in a class but differ in 
traits from their parents in their proper places, and proclaiming laws 
to preserve or alter morals — in short, deserting the modest province 
of science to rise to the sublime heights of creation. 

280. The controversies on the question "Can virtue be taught?" 
also betray some distant conception of non-logical conduct. Accord- 
ing to the documents in our possession, it would seem that Socrates 
regarded virtue as a science and left little room for non-logical 
actions.^ Plato and Aristotle abandon that extreme position. They 
hold that a certain natural inclination is necessary to "virtue." But 
that inclination once premised, back they go to the domain of logic, 
which is now called in to state the logical implications of tempera- 
ment, and these in their turn determine human conduct. Those 

280 ^ Ritter, Geschichte der Philosophic alter Zeit, Vol. Ill, p. 305 (Morrison, 
Vol. Ill, pp. 262-63): "More interested in didacticism than in physic, Socrates sought 
the principle of all morality strictly in dialectic. So virtue, in his opinion, had no 
other foundaton than reason and knowledge. But Plato already had found that 
courage and moderation, two necessary phases of virtue, must pre-exist in the 
temperament of the human being, whose impulses lie in the heart, not in the head. 
Aristotle went even farther in that direcdon and clung more tightly still to physic, 
for which he had a temperamental predilecdon. As the first principle of virtue he 
takes not reason but natural impulse and the emotional states of the soul {izaO?])." 
Zeller, Philosophic der Griechen, Vol. Ill, p. 118 (missing in Alleyne) : [For Socrates] 
"knowledge is not just an indispensable prerequisite, not just an auxiliary, to true 
morality: it directly constitutes all morality; and when knowledge is lacking, he is 
not content with the mere recognition of an imperfect virtue: he cannot see any 
virtue at all. Not till later on, in Plato, and more completely in Aristotle, will we 
find a correction of that narrow form of the Socratic doctrine of virtue." 


old controversies have points of resemblance vv^ith the disputes which 
took place long afterwards on "eflEcacious," and "non-efficacious," 

281. The procedure of Plato and Aristotle in the controversies on 
the teaching of "virtue" is a general one. Non-logical actions are 
credited with a role that it would be absurd not to give them, but 
then that role is at once withdrawn, and people go back to the 
logical implications of inclinations; and by dividing those inclina- 
tions, which in fact cannot be ignored, into "good" ones and "bad" 
ones, a way is found to keep inclinations that are in accord with the 
logical system one prefers and to eliminate all others. 

282. St. Thomas tries to steer a deft course between the necessity 
of recognizing certain non-logical inclinations and a great desire 
to give full sway to reason, between the determinism of non-logical 
conduct and the doctrine of free will that is implicit in logical con- 
duct. He says that "virtue is a good quality or disposition {habitus) 
of the soul, whereby one lives uprightly, which no one uses wrongly, 
and which God produces within us apart from any action by our- 
selves." ^ Taken as a "disposition of the soul" virtue is classed with ^ 
non-logical actions; and so it is when we say that God produces it 
in us apart from anything we do of ourselves. But by that divine 
interposition any uncertainty as to the character of non-logical con- 
duct is removed, for it becomes logical according to the mind of / 
God and therefore logical for the theologians who are so fortunate 
as to know the divine mind. Others use Nature for the same purpose 
and with the same results. People act according to certain inclina- 
tions. That reduces the role of the non-logical to a minimum, actions 
being regarded as logical consequences of the inclinations. Then 
even that very modest remnant is made to vanish as by sleight-of- 
hand; for inclinations are conceived as imparted by some entity 

282 ''- Sutnma theologiae, I^ IP^, qu. 55, art. 4 {Opera, Vol. VI, p. 353): "Virtus 
est bona qiialitas seu habitus mentis qua recte vivitur et qua nullus male utitur et 
quam Deus in nobis sine nobis operatur." The non-logical character of certain con- 
duct is more clearly perceived in a following remark by the Angelic Doctor: "But 
it should be noted that of the active dispositions {hahituum operativorum) some are 
always towards the bad, such as vicious inclinations; some are now towards the 
good, now towards the bad, much as opinion stands towards the true and the false.'* 


(God, Nature, or something else) that acts logically (§ 306, l-(3) ; so 
that even though the acting subject may on occasion believe that his 
actions are non-logical, those who know the mind, or the logical 
procedure, of the entity in question — and all philosophers, sociolo- 
gists, and the like, have that privilege — know that all conduct is 

283. The controversy between Herbert Spencer and Auguste 
Comte brings out a number of interesting aspects of non-logical 

284. In his Lectures on Positive Philosophy (Cours de philosophic 
positive) Comte seems to be decidedly inclined to ascribe the pre- 
dominance to logical conduct. He sees in positive philosophy. Vol. I, 
pp. 48-49, "the one solid basis for that social reorganization 
which is to terminate the critical state in which civilized nations 
have been living for so long a time." So then it is the business of 
theory to reorganize the world! How is that to come about? "Not 
to readers of these lectures should I ever think it necessary to prove 
that ideas govern and upset the world, or, in other terms, that the 
whole social mechanism rests, at bottom, on opinions. They are 
acutely aware that the great political and moral crisis in present- 
day society is due, in the last analysis, to our intellectual anarchy. 
Our most serious distress is caused by the profound differences of 
opinion that at present exist among all minds as to all those funda- 
mental maxims the stability of which is the prime requisite for a 
real social order. So long as individual minds fail to give unanimous 
assent to a certain number of general ideas capable of constituting 
a common social doctrine, we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that 
the nations will necessarily remain in an essentially revolutionary 
atmosphere. ... It is just as certain that if this gathering of minds 
to one communion of principles can once be attained, the appropri- 
ate institutions will necessarily take shape from it." 

285. After quoting Comte's dictum that ideas govern and upset 
the world, Herbert Spencer advances a theory that non-logical 
actions alone influence society. "Ideas do not govern and over- 
throw the world: the world is governed or overthrown by feelings, 


to which ideas serve only as guides. The social mechanism does not 
rest finally upon opinions; but almost wholly upon character. Not 
intellectual anarchy, but moral antagonism, is the cause of political 
crises. All social phenomena are produced by the totality of human 
emotions and beliefs. . . . Practically, the popular character, and the 
social state, determine what ideas shall be current; instead of the 
current ideas determining the social state and the character. The 
modification of men's moral natures caused by the continuous dis- 
cipline of social life, which adapts them more and more to social 
relations, is therefore the chief proximate cause of social progress." ^ 

286. Then a curious thing happens: Comte and Spencer reverse 
positions reciprocally ! In his System of Positive Polity, Vol. IV, p. 5, 
Comte decides to allow sentiment to prevail, and expresses himself 
very clearly on the point: "Though I have always proclaimed the 
universal preponderance of sentiment, I have had, so far, to devote 
my attention primarily to intelligence and activity, which prevail in 
sociology. But the very real ascendancy they have acquired having 
now brought on the period of their real systematization, the final 
purpose of this volume must now be to bring about a definite pre- 
dominance of sentiment, which is the essential domain of morality." 

Comte is straining the truth a little when he says that he has 
"always proclaimed the universal preponderance of sentiment." No 
trace of any such preponderance is to be detected in his Cours. Ideas 
stand in the forefront there. But Comte has changed. He began by 
considering existing theories, which he wished to replace with others 
of his own make; and in that battle of ideas, his own naturally won 
the palm, and from them new life was to come to the world. But 
time rolls on. Comte becomes a prophet. The battle of ideas is over. 
He imagines he has won a complete victory. So now he begins pro- 
claiming dogma, pronouncing ex cathedra, and it is only natural 
that nothing but sentiments should now be left on the field — his 
own sentiments, of course.^ \ 

285 ^ The Classification of the Sciences, Addendum, pp. 37-38. 

286 ^ Comte is to an extent aware of the evolution he has undergone, Systeme, 
Vol. Ill, Preface, p. vii: "Comparing this volume with the historical portions of my 
fundamental treatise, it will be noted that my general system is deeper and more 


287. Comte, moreover, began by hoping to make converts of 
people; and naturally the instrument for doing that was, at the time, 
ideas. But he ended by having no hope save in a religion imposed 
by force, imposed if need be by Czar Nicholas, by the Sultan, or at 
the very least by a Louis Napoleon (w^ho would in fact have done 
better to rest content with being just a dictator in the service of Posi- 
tivism).^ In this scheme sentiment is the big thing beyond shadow 
of doubt, and one can no longer say that "ideas govern or upset the 
world." It would be absurd to suppose that Comte turned to the 
Czar, to Reshid Pasha, or to Louis Napoleon, to induce them 
merely to preach ideas to their peoples. One might only object that 
the ideas of Comte would be determining the religion which would 
later be imposed upon mankind; and in that case ideas would be 
"upsetting the world," if the Czar, the Sultan, Louis Napoleon, or 
some other well-intentioned despot saw fit to take charge of en- 
forcing Comte's positivism upon mankind. But that is far from 

complete, whereas my special demonstrations are less developed. From the latter 
point of view, this final elaboration of my philosophy of history is at variance with 
my original announcements, which promised more details and proofs in this vol- 
ume than in my first outlines, to which, instead, I am now obliged to refer for such 
things. Brought to a clearer understanding of the true character of the philosophical 
regime, I have come to feel that systematic assertions, which I first regarded as 
something merely provisory, should be the normal rule of any truly systematic ex- 
position. The progress I have made and the prestige it has won for me allow me 
in my advancing years to fall in with the free and rapid stride of my chief prede- 
cessors, Aristotle, Descartes, and Leibnitz, who simply formulated their thoughts, 
leaving the task of verifying and developing them to their readers. That division 
of labour in intercourse between minds is at once the most honourable for the in- 
itiated and the most profitable for founders." And in this last, Comte is unques- 
tionably right! It is no litde convenience if one can manage to be believed without 
being pestered for proofs! 

287 ^ Systewe, Vol. IV, pp. 377-78: "To modify public life, it is enough for [the 
Priesthood of Humanity] that circumstances shall have brought to the fore some 
preponderant and responsible will. That condition has been fairly well provided for 
in France since the advent of the Dictatorship, which frees organized doctrine from 
the irksome obligation of deferring to legislatures that are ever disposed to perpetu- 
ate a revolutionary condition, even when they are reactionary. . . . Without having 
to convert either the public or its leaders. Positivism, therefore, in virtue of its fun- 
damental truth and its utter seasonableness, can win a partial ascendancy adequate 
for realizing the final transition, even unbeknown to the principal supporters of the 
movement." An action that takes place unbeknown to the individual who performs 
it obviously belongs to the genus of non-logical actions. 


being the meaning one gathers from the statements in the Corns. 

288. Comte recognizes, in fact he greatly exaggerates, the social 
influence of public worship and its efficacy in education — all of 
which is just a particular case of the efficacy of non-logical impulses. 
If Comte could have rested satisfied with being just a scientist, he 
might have written an excellent book on the value of religions and 
taught us many things. But he wanted to be the prophet of a new 
religion. Instead of studying the effects of historical or existing forms 
of worship, he wanted to create a new one — an entirely different 
matter. So he gives just another illustration of the harm done to 
science by the mania for practical applications. 

289. Spencer, on the other hand, after admitting, even too sweep- 
ingly, the influence of non-logical actions, eliminates them altogether 
by the general procedure described in § 261. Says he: "Our postulate 
must be that primitive ideas are natural, and, under the conditions 
in which they occur, rational," ^ Driven out by the door, logic here 
climbs back through the window. "In early life we have been taught 
that human nature is everywhere the same. . . . This error we must 
replace by the truth that the laws of thought are everywhere the 
same; and that, given the data as known to him, the primitive man's 
inference is the reasonable inference" (§§701, 711). 

290. In assuming any such thing, Spencer puts himself in the 
wrong in his controversy with Comte. If human beings always draw 
logical inferences from the data they have before them, and if they 
act in accordance with such inferences, then we are left with nothing 
but logical conduct, and it is ideas that "govern or upset the world." 
There is no room left for those sentiments to which Spencer was 
disposed to attribute that capacity; there is no way for them to crowd 
into a ready-made aggregate composed of experimental facts, how- 
ever badly observed, and of logical inferences derived from such 

291. The principle advanced by Spencer makes sociology very 
easy, especially if it be combined with two other Spencerian prin- 
ciples: unitary evolution, and the identity, or quasi-identity, of the 

289 ^ Principles of Sociology, Vol. I, § 52. 


savages of our time with primitive man (§§ 728, 731). Accounts by 
travellers, more or less accurate and more or less soundly interpreted, 
give us, Spencer thinks, the data that primitive man had at his dis- 
posal; and v^here such accounts fail, we fill in the gaps with our 
imagination, which, when it cannot get the real, takes the plausible. 
That gives us all we need for a sociology, for we have only to 
determine the logical implications of the data at hand, without 
wasting too much time on long and difficult historical researches. 

292. In just that way Spencer sets about discovering the origin 
and evolution of religion. His primitive man is like a modern sci- 
entist working in a laboratory to frame a theory. Primitive man of 
course has very imperfect materials at his disposal. That is why, 
despite his logical thinking, he can reach only imperfect con- 
clusions. All the same he gets some philosophical notions that are 
not a little subtle. Spencer, Ibid., Vol. I, § 154, represents as a "prim- 
itive" idea the notion that "any property characterizing an aggre- 
gate inheres in all parts of it." If you are desirous of testing the 
validity of that theory you need only state the proposition to some 
moderately educated individual among your friends, and you will 
see at once that he will not have the remotest idea of what you are 
talking about. Yet Spencer, loc. cit., believes that your friend will 
go on and draw logical conclusions from something he does not 
understand: "The soul, present in the body of the dead man pre- 
served entire, is also present in preserved parts of his body. Hence 
the faith in relics." Surely Spencer could never have discussed that 
subject with some good Catholic peasant woman on the Continent. 
The argument he maps out might possibly lead a philosopher en- 
amoured of logic to believe in relics, but it has nothing whatever to 
do with popular beliefs in relics/ 

293. So Spencer's procedure has points of similarity with Comte's 
procedure. In general terms, one might state the situation in this 
fashion: we have two things, P and Q (Figure 8), that have to be 
considered in determining the social order R. We begin by asserting 
that Q alone determines that order; then we show that ? determines 
p. So p is eliminated, and P alone determines the social order. 


294. If Q designates "ideas" and P "sentiments," we get, roughly, 
the evolution of Comte's theories. If Q designates "sentiments" and P 
"ideas," we get, roughly, the evolution of Spencer's theories. 

295. That is confirmed by the remarks of John Stuart Mill on 
the controversy between Comte and Spencer. Says he : ^ "It will not 
be found, on a fair examination of what M. Comte has written, 
that he has overlooked any of the truth that there is 
in Mr. Spencer's theory. He would not indeed have 
said (what Mr. Spencer apparently wishes us to 
say) that the effects which can be historically 
traced, for example, to religion, were not produced 
by the belief in God, but by reverence and fear of 
Him. He would have said that the reverence and 
fear presuppose the belief: that a God must be be- '' Figure 8 
lieved in before he can be feared or reverenced." 

That is the very procedure in question! P is the belief in God; Q, 
sentiments of fear and reverence ; P produces Q, and so becomes the 
cause determining conduct! 

296. To a perfect logician like Mill it seems absurd that anyone 
could experience fear unless the feeling be logically inferred from 
a subject capable of inspiring fear. He should have remembered the 
verse of Statius, 

"Primus in or be deos fecit timor," ^ 

and then he would have seen that a course diametrically opposite 
is perfectly conceivable.^ That granted, what was the course pursued 

295 ^ The Positive Philosophy of Aitgttste Comte, p. 96 (London, p. 103). 

296 1 Thebaid, III, v. 661. The scholiast Lactantius [read Luctatius Placidus; see 
Knaack, Rhenisches Museum jilr Philologie, Vol. 56, p. 166. — A. L.] annotates [not 
very keenly] (Leyden, p. 406) : "He says that the gods are worshipped for no other 
reason than the fear of mortals. As Lucan says, Pharsalia, I, v. 486: 'They fear 
inventions of their own devising' {quae finxere timent). Petronius \Fragmenta, 
XXVII] follows Statius: 'Fear first created gods on earth.' And Mintanor Musicus 
writes: '. , . the gods, whom humanity first invented under sting of pain.' " 

296 2 Holbach, Systeme de la nature, Vol. I, pp. 448, 456: "Mankind has ever 

derived its basic ideas on divinity from ignorance, fear, and calamity. . . . Man's 

earliest theology taught him first to fear and worship the elements themselves, and 
crude material objects." 


in reality ? Or better, what were the various courses pursued ? It is for 
historical documents to answer, and we cannot let our fancy take 
the place of documents and pass off as real anything that seems 
plausible to us. We have to know how things actually took place, 
and not how they should have taken place, in order to satisfy a 
strictly logical intelligence/ 

297. In other connexions, Mill is perfectly well aware of the social 
importance of non-logical actions. But he at once withdraws the con- 
cession, in part at least, and instead of going on with what is, turns 
to speculations as to what ought to be. That is the general procedure; 
and many writers resort to it to be rid of non-logical conduct. 

298. In his book On Liberty, p. i6. Mill writes, for example: 
"Men's opinions ... on what is laudable or blameable, are affected 
by all the multifarious causes which influence their wishes in regard 
to the conduct of others, and which are as numerous as those which 
determine their wishes on any other subject: sometimes their reason 
— at other times their prejudices or superstitions: often their social 
affections, not seldom their antisocial ones, their envy or jealousy, 
their arrogance or contemptuousness : but most commonly, their de- 
sires or fears for themselves — their legitimate or illegitimate self- 
interest. Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the 
morality of the country emanates from its class interests, and its 
feelings of class superiority." 

All that, with a few reservations, is well said and approximately 
pictures the facts.^ Mill might have gone on in that direction, and 
inquired, since he was dealing with liberty, into the relations of lib- 
erty to the motives he assigns to human conduct. In that event, he 
might have made a discovery: he might have seen that he was in- 
volved in a contradiction in trying with all his might to transfer 
political power to "the greatest number," while at the same time 

296 ^ We noted Cicero's view of the practices of Roman divination in § 182^: 
De divinatione, I, 3, 3: "Atqtte haec, tit ego arbitror, veteres rertim magis eventis 
moniti quam ratione docti probavernnt." That is very often the case: the fact, the 
non-logical action, comes first, then the explanation of the fact, the logical varnish. 

298 ^ The reservations relate to Mill's not very exact use of terms such as "legiti- 
mate" and "illegitimate." But Mill cannot be specially blamed for that. It is a de- 
fect common to almost all writers who deal with such subjects. 


defending a "liberty" that was incompatible with the prejudices, 
sentiments, and interests of said "greatest number." That discovery 
would then have enabled him to make a prophecy — one of the 
fundamental functions of science; namely, to foresee that liberty, as 
he conceived it, was progressively to decline, as being contrary to 
the motives that he had established as determinants of the aspira- 
tions of the class which was about to become the ruling class. 

299. But Mill thought less of things as they are than of things as 
they ought to be. He says. Ibid., p. 22: "He [a man] cannot right- 
fully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him 
to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions 
of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good 
reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or per- 
suading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or 
visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise." ^ 

299 ^ Mill, innocent soul, goes on to say, loc. cit.: "To justify that [such con- 
straint], the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to 
produce evil to someone else." He did not realize that sophistries are never wanting 
to show that the damage is there. Notice what happens in countries where people 
set out to enforce temperance and virtue in the holy name of "Progress": Giornale 
d'ltalia, March 19, 1912: "Atlanta, Georgia, March 2. Last evening Commendatore 
Alessandro Bonci, who was stopping here temporarily in connexion with profes- 
sional engagements, was arrested at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, together with his 
wife, his secretary, and his pianist, for violating the liquor law. It seems that Signor 
Bonci and his friends, like good Italians, who serve wine two meals a day at least, 
had adopted an ingenious device for doing so in spite of the law that forbids the 
use of wines and liquors in the State of Georgia. For several days the manager of 
the hotel had noticed that towards the middle of their meals the Boncis and their 
friends were in the habit of setting on the table four litde bottles such as are used 
by druggists, with labels giving directions for using the presumptive 'medicines.' 
The regularity with which the Bonci party drank the contents of the botdes twice 
a day, as though each member of it were suffering from the same disease and re- 
quired the same treatment, at length aroused the suspicions of the house detecdve. 
He mentioned the matter to a zealous policeman, who last evening, when the time 
for the 'treatment' came, confiscated the bottles. Each of them was found to have 
the capacity of a wine-glass and to contain nothing but excellent Chianti, with 
which, it seems, Commendatore Bonci travels well supplied in order to cope with 
the surprises of American law. Despite the hvely protestations of Signor Bonci, the 
four offenders were put into an automobile and taken to the Court House, where 
Judge Ralendorf, after a summary inquiry, continued the case dll this morning, 
fixing bail at $2,000. Then came the best, not to say the worst, of it. The celebrated 


That may be a "good justice," but it is not the justice handed out 
to us by our masters, who each year favour us with new laws to pre- 
vent our doing the very things that Mill says people should be 
allowed to do. His preaching, therefore, has been altogether without 

300. In certain writers the part played by non-logical actions is 
suppressed altogether, or rather, is regarded merely as the excep- 
tional part, the "bad" part. Logic alone is a means to human prog- 
ress. It is synonymous with "good," just as all that is not logical is 
synonymous with "evil." But let us not be led astray by the word 
"logic." Belief in logic has nothing to do with logico-experimental 
science; and the worship of Reason may stand on a par with any 
other religious cult, fetishism not excepted. 

301. Condorcet expresses himself as follows:^ "So a general 
knowledge of the natural rights of man; the opinion, even, that 
such rights are inalienable and unprescribable ; a prayer voiced aloud 
for liberty of thought and press, for freedom of commerce and 
industry, for succour of the people . . . indifference to all religions 
— classified, at last, where they belong with superstitions and politi- 
cal devices [The good soul fails to notice that his worship of Prog- 
ress is itself a religion!] — hatred and hypocrisy and fanaticism; 
contempt for prejudices; zeal for the propagation of enlightenment 
— all became the common avowal, the distinguishing mark, of any- 
one who was neither a Machiavellian nor a fool." Preaching re- 
tenor found he had no more than $150 in his pocket, and he was faced with the 
prospect of spending the night in jail." 

We may guess that if Signor Bonci had remembered that the ointment of St. 
John Goldmouth may be used on the hands of American reformers with as good 
effect as it had in Boccaccio's time on the hands of our virtuous Italian Inquisitors, 
he might have escaped such annoyance. In general terms: You happen to be in the 
dining-car when the train enters one of the abstemious states of the American 
Union, and the glass of wine that you were about to drink is snatched from the 
table in front of you. If you ask, "What harm am I doing to my neighbour by 
drinking this glass of wine.''", the answer comes quick and prompt: "You are setting 
a bad example!" And the rabble that enforces its will upon you in that fashion 
speaks with indignation of Spanish Catholics who, to prevent setting bad examples, 
refuse to tolerate in Spain any public worship except the Roman Catholic! 

301 ^ Esquisse d'un tableau historiqtte des progres de I'esprit liumain, pp. 264-65. 



ligious toleration, Condorcet is not aware that he is betraying an 
intolerance of his own when he treats dissenters from his religion 
of Progress the way the orthodox have always treated heretics. It is 
true that he considers himself right and his adversaries wrong, be- 
cause his own religion is good and theirs bad; but that, inverting 
terms, is exactly what they say too. 

302. Maxims from Condorcet and other writers of his time are 
still quoted by humanitarian fanatics today. Condorcet continues, p. 
292: "All errors in politics and morals are based on philosophical 
errors, which are in turn connected with errors in physic. There is 
no religious system, no supernatural extravagance, that is not 
grounded on ignorance of the laws of nature." But he himself gives 
proof of just such ignorance when he tries to have us swallow 
absurdities like the following, p. 345: "What vicious practice is there, 
what custom contrary to good faith, nay, what crime, that cannot 
be shown to have its cause and origin in the laws, the institutions, 
the prejudices, of the country in which that practice, that custom, 
is observed, that crime committed?" And he concludes finally, p. 
346, that "nature links truth, happiness, and virtue with chain 

303. Similar ideas are common among the French philosophes 
of the later eighteenth century. In their eyes every blessing doth from 
"reason" flow, every ill from "superstition." Holbach sees the source 
of all human woe in error; ^ and that belief has endured as one of 

303 '^Systeme de la nature. Vol. I, pp. 398-409: "The errors of mankind as to 
what constitutes happiness are the real source of its troubles. Inefficacy of proposed 
remedies. ... If we consult experience, we see that the real source of that multi- 
tude of woes that everywhere afBict the human race is to be sought in sacred opin- 
ions and illusions. Ignorance of natural causes first created gods for humanity: im- 
posture clothed them with terror. The deadly thought of them pursued the human 
being without making him better, filled him with fears to no purpose, packed his 
mind with nightmares, blocked the progress of his intelligence, prevented him from 
seeking his own welfare. His fears enslaved him to deceivers who made pretence 
of working his weal. . . . Prejudices no less dangerous have blinded men as to 
their rulers. ... A similar blindness we find in the science of morals. ... So 
humanity's burden of woe has no whit been lightened, but has been made heavier 
rather by his rehgions, his governments, his education, his opinions, in a word by all 
the institutions that he has been persuaded to adopt [By whom persuaded .? By someone 


the dogmas of the humanitarian religion, holiest of holies, of which 
our present-day "intellectuals" form the priesthood." 

304. All these people fail to notice that the worship of "Rea- 
son," "Truth," "Progress," and other similar entities is, like all cults, 
to be classed with non-logical actions. It was born, it has flourished, 
and it continues to prosper, for the purpose of combating other 
cults, just as in Graeco-Roman society the oriental cults arose out 
of opposition to the polytheistic cult,. At that time one same current 
of non-logical conduct found its multiple expression in the tauro- 
bolium, the criobolium, the cult of Mithras, the growing importance 
of mysteries, Neo-Platonism, mysticism, and finally Christianity, 
which was to triumph over rival cults, none the less borrowing many 
things from them. So, toward the end of the eighteenth century and 
the beginning of the nineteenth, one same current of non-logical 
conduct finds its expression in the theism of the philosophes, the 
sentimental vagaries of Rousseau, the cult of "Reason" and the 
"Supreme Being," the love of the First Republic for the number 10, 
theophilanthropy (of which the "positivist" religion of Comte is 
merely an offshoot), the religion of Saint-Simon, the religion of 
pacifism, and other religions that still survive to our times. 

These considerations belong to a much more comprehensive order, 
properly relating to the subjective aspect of theories indicated in 
§ 13. In general, in other words, we have to ask ourselves why and 
how individuals come to evolve and accept certain theories. And, 
in particular, now that we have identified one such purpose — the 
purpose of giving logical status to conduct that does not possess it 
— we have to ask by what means and devices that purpose is 
achieved. From the objective standpoint, the error in the arguments 

not of the human species?] on pretence that his lot would be made more bearable. 
It cannot be too often repeated: In error lies the true source of the ills that afflict 
the himian race. Not with Nature lies the responsibility for human unhappiness. 
No angry God ever willed that humanity should live in tears. No hereditary de- 
pravity made mortals wicked and miserable. Those deplorable consequences are all 
and exclusively due to error." 

303 ^ Elie Reclus, Les primitifs, p. 161: "Since morality is measured, along its 
general lines at least, by intellectual development, no surprise will be occasioned by 
finding it very rudimentary here [among the Redskins]." 


just noted lies in their giving an a priori answer to the questions 
stated in § 14, and in maintaining that a theory needs simply to be 
in accord with the facts to be advantageous to society. That error 
is usually supplemented by the further error of considering facts not 
as they stand in reality but as they are pictured by the exhilarated . 
imagination of the enthusiast. ^ 

305. Our induction so far has shown from some few particular 
cases the prevalence of a tendency to evade consideration of non- 
logical actions, which nevertheless force themselves upon the atten- 
tion of anyone undertaking to discuss human societies; and also the 
no mean importance of that tendency. Now we must look into it 
specially and in general terms.^ 

306. So let us now examine the various devices by which non- 
logical actions are eliminated so that only logical actions are left: 
and suppose we begin as usual by classifying the objects we are try- 
ins to understand. 

The principles ^ underlying non-logical actions are held to be de- 
void of any objective reality (§§ 307-18). 

305 ^ Farther along, in Chapter IX, we shall have to consider a still more general 
subject — the variability of the arguments to which human beings are prompted by 
sentiments, and which provide logical exteriors for non-logical conduct. A strictly 
inductive course, such as we have been following, brings up the particular problem 
in advance of the general. That has the drawback of compelling us to examine the 
pardcular problem first, and to keep going back to things on which we have al- 
ready touched. It has, on the other hand, the great advantage of making the mate- 
rials we work with clearer and more manageable. 

306 ^ [One need hardly remind the reader that these synopdc pictures of Pareto's 
classifications are unintelligible apart from the exposition seriatim of the various 
categories that he proceeds to make. They have to be continually re-read in con- 
nexion with the text that follows. This table is particularly obscure in itself, not 
only because of exceptionally opaque writing but because implicit in it is another 
classificadon that Pareto for some reason does not see fit to utilize. It is clear that 
the devices in Class A are used from a sceptical standpoint to discredit beliefs on 
logical grounds. The B-I and B-III devices are used by believers to represent their 
beliefs as logical. The other devices are "errors" commonly made by scholars in 
viewing the non-logical as logical. I use the term "device" for the sake of clarity; 
Pareto's term was "means." Whatever the term used, it has to be understood as not 

306 ^ "Principle" here means the cause to which an acdon is to be ascribed. 



Genus I. They are disregarded entirely (§§ 307-08) 
Genus II. They are regarded as absurd prejudices (§§ 309-11) 
Genus III. They are regarded as tricks used by some individuals 
to deceive others (§§ 312-18) 


\ The principles underlying non-logical actions are credited v^^ith 
now^ more, now less, objective reahty (§§ 319-51) 

Genera and Subgenera 
Genus I. The principles are taken as completely and directly real 

la. Precepts v^^ith sanctions in part imaginary (§§ 321-33) 
1/3. Simple interposition of a personal god or a personified ab- 
straction (§§ 332-33) 
Iv. The same interposition supplemented by legends and logical 

inferences (§ 334) 
\h. Some metaphysical entity is taken as real (§§ 335-36) 
I e. What is real is an implicit accord between the principles 
and certain sentiments (§§ 337-38) 

Genus II. The principles of non-logical conduct are not taken 
as completely or directly real. Indirectly, the reahty is found in cer- 

implying any intent to deceive on the part of a person using such a device or means. 
Pareto's classifications, which are taken over from botany, envisage classes, genera 
and subgenera (sometimes species and subspecies). I keep these terms in the tables 
of classificadon. In the text at large, to avoid a fatiguing technical atmosphere, I 
often render "genus" and "species" loosely as "type," "kind," "sort," or more gen- 
erally "variety": the "Iy8 variety," or "1/3 type" vi^ould be, in the tables, the 
"lyS subgenus," and so on. Pareto makes but litde use of the "genus" in the structure 
proper of his theories, the one exception perhaps being his analysis of the residue 
of asceticism (§§ ii63f.). The "class," on the other hand, is essential to his theory 
of interdependence and intensities (Chapter XII). Since residues increase or dimin- 
ish in intensities by "classes," and interdependences arise primarily within "classes," 
it is clear that the structure of the "class" has all along to be borne in mind. — 
A. L.] 


tain facts that are said to be inaccurately observed or imperfectly 
understood (§§339-50) 

Ila. It is assumed that human beings make imperfect observa- 
tions, and derive inferences from them logically (§§340- 

II/5. A myth is taken as the reflection of some historical reality 
that is concealed in one way or another, or else as a mere 
imitation of some other myth (§§ 347-49) 
11^. A myth is made up of tv^^o parts: a historical fact and an 
imaginary adjunct (§ 350) 
Genus III. The principles of non-logical actions are mere alle- 
gories (§§ 351-52) 


It is assumed that non-logical actions have no effect on "progress," 
or else are obstructive to it. Hence they are to be eliminated in any 
study designed solely to promote "progress" (§§ 353-56). 

307. Let us examine these various categories one by one. 

Device A-I: Non-logical actions are disregarded. Non-logical ac- 
tions can be disregarded entirely as having no place in the realm 
of reality. That is the position of Plato's Socrates in the matter of the 
national religions of Greece/ He is asked what he thinks of the 
ravishing of Orithyia, daughter of Erechtheus, by Boreas. He begins 
by rejecting the logical interpretation that tries to see a historical fact 
in the myth (11^)- Then he opines that such inquiries are as fine- 
spun as they are profitless, and falls back on the popular belief. On 
common belief the oracle at Delphi also relied when it prescribed 
that the best way to honour the gods was for each to follow the cus- 
toms of his own city.^ Certainly the oracle in no wise meant by that 

307 ^ Pliaedrus, 229-30 (Fowler, pp. 419-23). 

307 2 The fact is mentioned by Xenophon's Socrates. Memorabilia, IV, 3, 16: 
"Since thou seest that when the god of Delphi is asked how best to please the gods, 
he replies: By following the custom of the city." Cicero, De legibus, II, 16, 40: "Our 
law shall further provide that of all our ancestral rites the best should be fostered. 
When the Athenians consulted the Pythian Apollo as to which rites they had better 
practise, they received the oracle: 'Those customary with the forefathers.' Then they 
came back again, saying that the custom of the forefathers had often changed, and 


that such customs corresponded to things that were not real ; yet ac- 
tually they might as well have, since they were held to be entirely ex- 
empt from the verification to which real tilings are considered sub- 
ject. That method often amounts to viewing beliefs as non-logical 
actions to be taken for what they are without any attempt to explain 
them — the problem being merely to discover the relationship in 
which they stand towards other social facts. That, overtly or tacitly, 
is the attitude of many statesmen. 

308. So, in Cicero's De natura deorum, the pontifex Cotta dis- 
tinguishes the statesman from the philosopher. As pontifex he pro- 
tests that he will ever defend the beliefs, the worship, the ceremonies, 
the religion, of the forefathers, and that no argument, be it of scholar 
or dunce, will ever budge him from that position. He is persuaded 
that Romulus and Numa founded Rome, the one with his auspices, 
the other with his religion. "That, Balbus, is what I think, as Cotta 
and as pontifex. It is now for me to know what you think. From 
you, a philosopher, I have a right to expect some reason for your 
beliefs. The beliefs I get from our forefathers I must accept quite 
apart from any proof." ^ In that it is obvious that as pontifex Cotta 
deliberately steps aside from the realm of logical reality, which in- 
plies a belief either that traditional Roman beliefs have no basis in 
fact or else that they are to be classed with non-logical actions.^ 

309. Device A-II: The principles of non-logical actions are re- 
garded as absurd prejudices. One may consider merely the forms of 
non-logical actions and finding them irrational, judge them absurd 
prejudices, at the most deserving of attention from a pathological 

they asked which they should prefer of the various ancestral customs; and the god 
answered: 'The best.' " Cicero appends a logical consideration that has no logical 
force whatever: "And it is assuredly true that what is best should be taken as the 
most authentic tradition and the closest to God." 

308 ^ III, 2, 5. Cf. De divinatione, II, 12, 28: "As regards divination, I think the 
custom should be cherished for considerations of state and common religion. But 
here we are in strict privacy and we surely have a right to discuss the matter quite 
frankly {sine invidia), and I in particular, since I have very grave doubts in not a 
few connexions." 

308 2 [Pareto wrote: "which means either that such [logico-experimental] reality 
does not exist or that it is of the genus of the principles of non-logical actions." — 
A. L.] 


Standpoint as veritable maladies of the human race. That has been 
the attitude of not a few writers in dealing with legal and political 
formalities. It is the attitude especially of writers on religion and 
most of all of writers on forms of worship. It is also the attitude of 
our contemporary anti-clericals with regard to the Christian religion 
— and it betrays great ignorance on the part of those bigots, along 
with a narrow-mindedness that incapacitates them for ever under- 
standing social phenomena. 

We have already seen specimens of this type of reasoning in the 
works of Condorcet (§§301-02) and Holbach (§§296", 303). A 
more diluted type is observable in disquisitions purporting to make 
this or that religion "more scientific" (§16"), on the assumption 
that a religion which is not scientific is either absurd or reprehen- 
sible. So in earlier times there were efforts to remove by subtle inter- 
pretation such elements in the legends and cults of the pagan gods 
as were considered non-logical. It was the procedure of the Prot- 
estants during the Reformation, while the liberal Protestants of our 
day are repeating the same exploits, appealing to their pseudo- 
science. So also for the Modernists in their criticism of Catholicism, 
and for our Radical Socialists in their demeanour towards Marxism. 

310. If one regards certain non-logical actions as absurd, one may 
centre chiefly on their ridiculous aspects ; and that is often an effective 
weapon for combating a faith. Frequent use of it was made against 
established religions from the day of Lucian down to the day of 
Voltaire. In an article replete with historical blunders, Voltaire says 
of the religion of Rome: "I am imagining that after conquering 
Egypt Caesar sends an embassy to China, with the idea of stimu- 
lating the foreign trade of the Roman Empire. . . . The Emperor 
Iventi, first of that name, is reigning at the time. . . . After receiv- 
ing Caesar's ambassadors with typical Chinese courtesy, he secretly 
inquires through his interpreters as to the civilization, customs, and 
religion of these Romans. ... He learns that the Roman People 
supports at great expense a college of priests, who can tell you 
exactly the right time for embarking on a voyage and the very best 
place for fighting a battle by inspecting the liver of an ox or the 

204 "T^^ MIND AND SOCIETY §310 

appetite with which chickens eat their barley. That sacred science 
was brought to the Romans long, long before by a little god named 
Tages, who was unearthed somewhere in Tuscany. The Roman 
people worship just one god whom they always call 'Highest and 
Best.' All the same, they have built a temple to a harlot named 
Flora; and most Roman housewives have little household gods in 
their homes, five or six inches high. One of the little divinities is 
the goddess Nipples, another the god Bottom. . . . The Emperor 
has his laugh. The courts at Nanking at first conclude, as he does, 
that the Roman ambassadors are either lunatics or impostors . . . 
but the Emperor, being as just as he is courteous, holds private con- 
verse with the ambassadors. . . . They confess to him that the Col- 
lege of Augurs dates from early ages of Roman barbarism; that an 
institution so ridiculous has been allowed to survive only because it 
became endeared to the people in the course of long ages; that all 
respectable people make fun of the augurs; that Caesar never con- 
sults them ; that according to a very great man by the name of Cato 
no augur is ever able to speak to a colleague without a laugh; and 
finally that Cicero, the greatest orator and best philosopher of Rome, 
has just published against the augurs a little essay. On Divination, 
in which he hands over to everlasting ridicule all auspices, all proph- 
ecy, and all the fortune-telling of which humanity is enamoured. 
The Emperor of China is curious to read Cicero's essay. His inter- 
preters translate it. He admires the book and the Roman Republic." ^ 

310 ^ Remarques pour servir de Supplement a I'Essai sur les mceurs, Pt. IV 
{CEuvres, Vol. V, p. 48) : "Contemptible customs in a nation do not always indicate 
that that nation is itself contemptible." Among the blunders mentioned are the fol- 
lowing: I. Cicero's essay De difi?2atione was written after Cssar's death. But that is a 
small matter; if one is going to pretend that Cssar sent ambassadors to China, one 
may also pretend that he was living when Cicero wrote the essay. 2. The Chinese 
pantheon was much better filled than the Roman pantheon. That error on Voltaire's 
part may be forgiven, since it was the error of all the philosophes of his time. With a 
little care, however, he might have avoided the following: 3. Wittingly or unwittingly, 
he confuses Roman divination with the Etruscan. The god Tages belonged only to the 
latter. 4. Jupiter Optimus Maximus was by no means the only god in the official 
cult of Rome. [I cannot believe that Voltaire did not know that. The very glaring- 
ness of the error calls attention to a sacrilegious parody of French Christianity in 
the allusions to Jupiter, Flora, and the Penates. — A. L.] 5. The Penates were not 
at all the gods of silly housewives. Servius, In Vergilii Aeneidem, II, v. 514 (Thilo- 


311. In dealing with writings of this kind, we must be careful not 
to fall into the very error we are here considering, with reference 
to non-logical actions/ The intrinsic value of such satires may be 
zero when viewed from the experimental standpoint, whereas their 
polemical value may be great. Those two things we must always 
keep distinct. Moreover they may have a certain intrinsic value: a 
group of non-logical actions taken as a whole may be useful for at- 
taining a given purpose without absolutely all of them, taken in- 
dividually, being useful to that purpose. Certain ridiculous actions 

Hagen, Vol. I, p. 298) : "The Penates are all the gods worshipped in the home." 
Rome herself had her Penates. Voltaire would use Cicero against the silly house- 
wives, but Cicero himself invokes the Penates, Pro Publio Sulla, 31, 86: "Wherefore, 
O ye gods of our forefathers, and ye, O Penates, who watch over this city and this 
country of ours, ye who during my consulship did confer your aid and your 
divine protection upon this state, upon the Roman People and its liberties, upon 
these homes, these temples, you do I invoke as witnesses to my integrity and honesty 
of purpose in appearing in defence of Publius Sulla." Cf. also In Catilinam, IV, 9, 18. 
6. Whether he believed in such things or not, Caesar made a practice of consulting 
soothsayers. There is an allusion to that in De divinatione, I, 52, 119; II, 16, 36, 
which Voltaire quotes; and cj. Dio Cassius, Historia Ro?nana, XLIV, 17, 18; 
Plutarch, Caesar, 63-64 (Perrin, Vol. VII, pp. 589-95); Suetonius, Divtis Julius, 81; 
Pliny, Historia naturalis, XXVIII, 4 (2). To one of Cesar's superstitions we have pre- 
viously alluded in § 184^. 7. Cicero does not dream of ridiculing all auspices. He 
was himself an augur, and speaks of auspices with the greatest respect, De legibus, 
II, 12, 31: "The office of augur stands very high and is of the greatest importance 
in the state \j.e., in Cicero's ideal state] and it is clothed with the greatest prestige. 
And that I feel not because I am an augur but because we can think not otherwise." 
He had little or no regard for the intrinsic merits of augury; but he considered the 
institution useful to the state and consequently did not ridicule it {cf. the quotations 
in § 313 ^). 8. Cato was speaking not of the augurs, but of the haruspices: Cicero, 
De divinatione, II, 24, 51: "Familiar the old jest of Cato, who used to express his 
wonder that one haruspex could ever look at another without laughing." For that 
matter it is a common error to confuse Roman augury with Etruscan divination by 
inspection of entrails. Only when they could not help doing so did the Romans 
appeal to Etruscan divination. Tiberius Gracchus, the father of the Gracchi, on being 
accused by Etruscan soothsayers, who were functioning at an election, of calling 
for a vote against the auspices, addressed them as follows: Cicero, De natura 
deorum, II, 4, 11: " Tou say that I am not in order, though I am putting this ques- 
tion as consul and as augur, and under good auspices? And you, Etruscans, you, 
barbarians — you presume to say what good auspices for the Roman People arc? 
You presume to be interpreters for these comitia?' And he bade them to be gone 
from the Forum." 

311 ^ Stricdy speaking, this remark and the next following are irrelevant to the 
present chapter. I make them simply to warn anew of the habit people have of as- 
suming that a writer says what he does not say (§ § 41, 74-75). 


may be eliminated from such a group without impairing its effec- 
tiveness. However, in so reasoning we must beware of falUng into 
the fallacy of the man who said he could lose all his hair without 
becoming bald because he could lose any particular hair without 
suffering that catastrophe. 

312. Device A-III: N on-logical actioiis as tric\s for deceit. After 
establishing, as in the two cases above, that certain actions are not 
logical, but still resolved to have them such in the feeling that every 
human act should be born of logic, a writer may go on and say that 
an institution involving non-logical conduct is an invention of this 
or that individual or group that is designed to procure some per- 
sonal advantage, or some advantage to state, society, or humanity 
at large. So actions intrinsically non-logical are transformed into 
actions that are logical from the standpoint of the end in view. 

To adopt this procedure as regards actions deemed beneficial to 
society is to depart from the extreme case noted in § 14, where it is 
maintained that only theories which accord with facts (logico-ex- 
perimental theories) can be beneficial to society. It is here recog- 
nized that there are theories which are not logico-experimental, but 
which are nevertheless beneficial to society. All the same, the writer 
cannot make up his mind to admit that such theories derive spon- 
taneously from non-logical impulse. No, all conduct has to t>e log- 
ical. Therefore such theories too are products of logical actions. 
These actions cannot originate in the sources of the theories, since 
it has been recognized that the theories have no experimental basis; 
but they may envisage the same purposes as the theories, which ex- 
perience shows are beneficial to society. So we get the following 
solution: "Theories not in accord with the facts may be beneficial 
to society and are therefore logically invented to that end." ^ 

313. The notion that non-logical actions have been logically de- 
vised to attain certain purposes has been held by many many writers. 
Even Polybius, a historian of great sagacity, speaks of the religion 

312 ^ If one were to say "kept," or "preserved," instead of "invented" in the 
proposition in question, it would at times correspond to a greater or lesser extent 
with reality (§ 316). 


of the Romans as originating in deliberate artifice.^ Yet he himself 
recognized that the Romans succeeded in creating their common- 
wealth not by reasoned choices but by allowing themselves to be 
guided by circumstances as they arose.^ 

313 ^ Historiae, VI, 56, 8-12 (Paton, Vol. Ill, p. 395). After noting the great role 
of religion in Roman public life, Polybius adds: "That will seem strange to many. 
As for me, I believe that religion was established with an eye to the masses. In fact, 
if the city were made up entirely of educated people, such an institution might 
never have been called for. But since the masses everywhere are fickle and untrust- 
worthy, full of lawless passions, unreasoning angers, violent impulses, they can be 
controlled only by mysterious terrors and tragic fears. It seems to me, therefore, 
that not by chance and not without strong motive did the ancients introduce these 
beliefs in gods and hells to the multitude." Strabo, Geographica, I, 2, 8 (Jones, Vol. 
I, p. 71) : "Since neither women in the mass nor the utterly untutored mob can be 
influenced by philosophical discourse and preached into piety, reverence, and faith, 
superstition has to be called in." And then: ", . . myths being like that and turn- 
ing out to the advantage of society, civilized living, and the continuity of the human 
race." Cf. Plutarch, Adversus Co/otem, 31 (Goodwin, Vol. V, pp. 379-80). Then 
Livy, Ab urbe condita, I, 19, 4: "He [Numa] thought that fear of the gods should 
be instilled the very first thing, as a most effective measure for a populace that in 
those days was still crude and ingenuous {imperitam) ." Here we are wholly within 
the realm of logical conduct, the masses being lured into religion by subterfuge. 
Cicero, De legibits, II, 13, 32 (Atticus, alluding to the different views of the two 
augurs Marcellus and Appius) : " 'I have examined their writings and I find that 
according to the one, the auspices you mention were devised for purposes of state; 
while according to the other it would seem that you can actually foretell the future 
by your science.' " Cicero, De divinatione, II, 18, 43: "We find it written in our 
augural commentaries: 'It is sacrilege to hold comitia with Jove thundering or light- 
ning.' That may have been devised for purposes of state, for our forefathers wanted 
to have some pretext for not holding comitia." Ibid., II, 33, 70: "Yet I believe that 
Romulus, who founded the city in obedience to auspices, must have thought that 
there was a science of augury for foretelling the future (antiquity erred in many 
matters) and we see that that belief has remained unshaken whether by experience, 
by learning, or by time. However, the custom and science of divination, the strict 
observance of it, and the prerogatives of the augurs and the prestige of their col- 
lege, have been kept alive in deference to popular feelings, and in view of their 
great advantage to the state." A little later, II, 35, 75, he adds that he believed "the 
augural law to have been first established through belief in divination and to have 
been kept and preserved later on for reasons of state." That seems to have been 

313 ^ VI, II. He is comparing the republic of Lycurgus with the Roman Republic. 
He believes that Lycurgus was a real person and founded his state with preconceived 
purposes. Then he goes on: "The Romans achieved the same end in creating dieir 
own republic. Not through speculation {oh jif/v 6ia Adyov), but through their school- 
ing in many struggles and vicissitudes and through their unfailing choice of what 
was best did they achieve the same end as Lycurgus and create the best of our gov- 


314. We may take Montesquieu's view of Roman religion as the 
type of the interpretation here in question/ "Neither fear nor piety 
estabhshed religion among the Romans, but the same necessity that 
compels all societies to have religions. ... I note this difference, 
however, between Roman legislators and the lawgivers of other 
peoples, that the Romans created religion for the State, the others 
the State for religion. Romulus, Tatius, and Numa made the gods 
servants of statesmanship ; and the cult and the ceremonies that they 
instituted were found to be so wise that when the kings were ex- 
pelled the yoke of religion was the only one which that people dared 
not throw off in its frenzy for liberty. In establishing religion, 
Roman law-makers were not at all thinking of reforming morals or 
proclaiming moral principles. . . . They had at first only a general 
view, to inspire a people that feared nothing with fear of the gods, 
and to use that fear to lead it whithersoever they pleased. ... It 
was in truth going pretty far to stake the safety of the State on the 
sacred appetite of a chicken and the disposition of the entrails in a 
sacrificial animal; but the founders of those ceremonies were well 
aware of their strong and weak points, and it was not without good 
reasons that they sinned against reason itself. Had that form of 
worship been more rational, the educated as well as the plain man 
would have been deceived by it; and so all the advantage to be ex- 
pected from it would have been lost." 

315. It is curious that Voltaire and Montesquieu followed oppo- 
site though equally mistaken lines, and that neither of them thought 
of a spontaneous development of non-logical conduct. 

316. The variety of interpretation here in question sometimes con- 
Cicero's own opinion and it does not come far from the truth. Non-logical actions 
arise spontaneously. They may then be kept in deference to tradition or because of 
their proved usefulness. Of course any logical origin, by design of Romulus, is pure 
myth. Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysica, XI, 8, 13 (Ross, p. 1074b). After discussing the 
divinity of the stars, he adds: "The rest is a mythical adjunct, designed to influence 
the multitude and promote obedience to law and the common welfare." See fur- 
ther: Plutarch, De placitis philosophoriim, I, 7, 2 (Goodwin, Vol. Ill, p. 119); and 
Sextus Empiricus, Contradictiones, IX, Adversus physicos, II, De diis, 14-16 (551) 
{Opera, Vol. II, pp. 539-4o)- 

314 ^ Dissertation sur la politique des Romains dans la religion, p. 303. 


tains an element of truth, not as regards the origin of non-logical 
actions, but as regards the purposes to which they may be turned 
once they have become customary. Then it is natural enough that 
the shrewd should use them for their own ends just as they use any 
other force in society. The error lies in assuming that such forces 
have been invented by design (§312). An example from our own 
time may bring out the point more clearly. There are plenty of 
rogues, surely, who make their profit out of spiritualism; but it 
would be absurd to imagine that spiritualism originated as a mere 
scheme of rogues. 

317. Van Dale, in his treatise De Oraculis, saw nothing but artifice 
in the pagan oracles. That notion belongs with this group of inter- 
pretations. Eusebius wavers between it and the view that oracles 
were the work of devils.^ Such mixtures of interpretations are com- 
mon. We shall come back to them. 

318. Likewise with this variety are to be classed interpretations 
that regard non-logical actions as consequences of an external or 
exoteric doctrine serving to conceal an internal or esoteric doctrinej 
That would make actions which are non-logical in appearance log- 
ical in reality. Consider a passage in Galileo's Dialogue of the 
Greater Systems (Salviati speaking) : ^ "That the Pythagoreans held 
the science of numbers in very high esteem ... I am well aware, 
nor would I be loath to concur in that judgment. But that the mys- 
teries in view of which Pythagoras and his sect held the science of 
numbers in such great veneration are the absurdities commonly cur- 
rent in books and conversation, I can in no way agree. On the con- 
trary, they did not care to have their wonders exposed to the ridicule 
and disparagement of the common herd. So they damned as sac- 
rilegious any publication of the more recondite properties of the 
numbers and incommensurable and irrational quantities with which 
they dealt, and they preached that anyone disclosing such things 
would suffer torment in the world to come. I think that some of 

317 '^ Evangelica praeparatio, V {Opera, Vol. Ill, pp. 307-402). 

318 ^ Dialogo dei due massinii sistemi del mondo, Giornata prima {Opera, Vol. 

VII, p. 35). 


them, to throw a sop to the vulgar and be free of prying impor- 
tunity, represented their numeral mysteries as the same childish 
idiocies that later on spread generally abroad. It was a shrewd and 
cunning device on their part, like the trick of that sagacious young 
man who escaped the prying of his mother (or his curious wife — I 
forget which), who was pressing him to confide the secrets of the 
Senate, by making up a story wherewith she and other prattling 
females proceeded to make fools of themselves, to the great amuse- 
ment of the Sentaors." 

That the Pythagoreans sometimes misrepresented their own doc- 
trines seems certain; but it is not at all apparent that that was the 
case with their ideas on perfect numbers. On that point Galileo is 
mistaken (§§ 960 f.). 

319. Device B-I: The principles are ta\en as completely and 
directly real} This variety is exemplified by non-logical actions of 
a religious character on the part of unquestioning believers. Such 
actions difler little if at all from logical actions. If a person is con- 
vinced that to be sure of a good voyage he must sacrifice to Poseidon 
and sail in a ship that does not leak, he will perform the sacrifice 
and caulk his seams in exactly the same spirit. 

320. Curiously enough, such doctrines come closer than any 
others to a scientific status. They differ from the scientific, in fact, 
only by an appendage that asserts the reality of an imaginary prin- 
ciple; whereas many other doctrines, in addition to possessing the 
same appendage, further differ from scientific doctrines by infer- 
ences that are either fantastic or devoid of all exactness. 

I 321. Device B-I a: Precept plus sanction. This variety is ob- 
tained by appending some adjunct or other to the simple sanction- 
less precept — to the taboo {cf. § 154).^ 

319 ^ This extreme case recognizes non-logical actions for what they are and 
therefore ought not, strictly speaking, to be classified with procedures for giving 
non-logical actions the semblance of logic. However, we must consider it as the 
point of departure for many such procedures, and so glance at it here. 

321 ^ The sanctionlcss precept is not of this variety because it does not evade but 
recognizes the fact that an action is non-logical — indeed it is in the sancdonless 
precept that non-logical actions can be most readily identified. 


322. Reinach writes : ^ "A taboo is an interdiction ; an object that 
is taboo, or tabooed, is a forbidden object. The interdiction may for- 
bid corporal contact or visual contact; it may also exempt the object 
from the peculiar kind of violation involved in pronouncing its 
name. . . . Similar interdictions are observable in Greece and 
Rome, and among many other peoples, vi^here generally it is ex- 
plained that knowledge of a name enables a person to 'evoke' with 
evil intent the 'power' that the name designates. That explanation 
may have been valid at certain periods; but it does not represent the 
primitive state of mind. Originally it was the sanctity of the name 
itself that was dreaded, on the same grounds as contact with a 
tabooed object." 

Reinach is right in regarding as an appendage the notion that 
knowledge of the name of an object gives a person power over it; 
but the notion of sanctity is likewise an appendage. Indeed, prob- 
ably few of the individuals observing a taboo would know what 
was meant by an abstraction such as "sanctity." For them the taboo 
is just a non-logical action, just an aversion to touching, looking at, 
naming, the thing tabooed. Later on an effort is made to explain or 
justify the aversion; and then the mysterious power of which Rein- 
ach speaks (or perhaps his own notion of sanctity) is invented. 

Reinach continues: "The notion of the taboo is narrower still than 
the notion of interdiction. The characteristic difference is that the 
taboo never orives a reason." That is excellent ! The non-logical action 
has just that trait. But for that very reason Reinach should not, in a 
particular case, provide the taboo with a reason in some considera- 
tion of sanctity. He goes on : "The prohibition is merely stated, tak- 
ing the cause for granted — it is, in fact, nothing but the taboo itself, 
that is to say, the assertion of a mortal peril." But in saying that 
he is withdrawing his concession and trying to edge back into the 
domain of logic. No "cause" is taken for granted ! The taboo lies in 
a pure and absolute repugnance to doing a certain thing. To get 
something similar from our own world: There is the sentimental 
person who could never be induced to cut off a chicken's head. 

322 ^ Ciiltes, mythcs et religions. Vol. I, pp. 1-2. 


There is no "cause" for the aversion; it is just an aversion, and it is 
strong enough to^keep the person from cutting off a chicken's head! 
It is not apparent either why Reinach would have it that the penalty 
for violating a taboo is always a mortal peril. He himself gives exam- 
ples to the contrary. Going on, he returns to the domain of non- 
logical actions, well observing that "the taboos that have come down 
into contemporary cultures are often stated with supporting reasons. 
But such reasons have been excogitated in times relatively recent 
[One could not say better.] and bear the stamp of modern ideas. 
For example, people will say, 'Speak softly in a chamber of death 
[A taboo that gives no evidence of having a "mortal peril" for a 
sanction,] out of respect for the dead.' The primitive taboo lay in 
avoiding not only contact with a corpse, but its very proximity. 
[Still no evidence of any mortal peril.] Nevertheless even today, in 
educating children taboos are imparted without stated reasons, or 
i else with some mere specification of the general character of the 
interdiction: 'Do not take off your coat in company, for that is not 
. nice.' In his Workj and Days, v. 727, Hesiod interdicts passing 
^ water with one's face towards the sun, but he gives no reasons for 
the prohibition. [A pure non-logical action.] Most taboos relating to 
decorum have come down across the centuries without justifications" 
[and with no threats of "mortal peril" ].^ 
\w/ 323. With taboos may profitably be classed other things of the 
kind where logical interpretation is reduced to a minimum. Wil- 
liam Marsden says of the Mohammedans of Sumatra : ^ "Many who 
profess to follow it [Mohammedanism] give themselves not the least 
concern about its injunctions, or even know what they require. A 
Malay at Marina upbraided a countryman, with the total ignorance 
of religion, his nation laboured under, 'You pay a veneration to the 
tombs of your ancestors: what foundation have you for supposing 
that your dead ancestors can lend you assistance?' 'It may be true,' 
answered the other; 'but what foundation have you, for expecting 

322 ^ We have here been considering the sanction appended to taboos as a device 
for logicalizing non-logical actions. Farther along we shall examine them as devices 
for inducing observance of taboos. 

323 ^ History of Sumatra, p. 250. 



assistance from Allah and Mahomet?' 'Are you not aware,' replied 
the Malay, 'that it is written in a Book ? Have you not heard of the 
Koraan?' The native of the Passumah, with conscious inferiority, 
submitted to the force of this argument." ^ That is a seed which will 
sprout and yield an abundant harvest of logical interpretations, some 
of which we shall find in the devices hereafter following. 

324. Something like the taboo is the precept (§§ 154, 1480 f.). It 
may be given without sanction, "Do so and so," and in that form it 
is a plain non-logical action. In the injunction, "You ought to do so 
and so," there is a slight, sometimes a very slight, trace of explana- 
tion. It lurks in the term "ought," which suggests the mysterious 
entity Duty. That is often supplemented by a sanction real or imag- 
inary, and then we get actions that are either actually logical or else 
are merely made to appear so. Only a certain number of precepts, 
therefore, can be properly grouped with the things we are classify- 
ing here. 

325. In general, precepts may be distinguished as follows : 

a. Pure precept, without stated reasons, aiid without proof. The 
proposition is not elliptical. No proof is given, either because no 
proof exists or because none is asked for. That, therefore, is the pure 
non-logical action. But human beings have such a passion for logical 
explanations that they usually stick one or two on, no matter how 
silly. "Do that!" is a precept. If it be asked, "Why should I do that?" 
the answer is, let us say, "Because . . . !" or, "Because it is custom- 
ary." The logical appendage is of little value, except where violation 
of custom implies some penalty — but in that case the penalty, not 
the custom, carries the logical force. 

326. b. The demonstration is elliptical. The proof, valid or not, 
is available. It has not been mentioned, but it may be. The proposi- 
tion is a precept only in appearance. The terms "ought," "must," 
and the like may be suppressed, and the precept reduced to an ex- 
perimental or pseudo-experimental theorem, the consequence de- 
riving from the act without any interposition from without. This 
type of precept runs, "To get A, you must do B,"; or, negatively, "To 

323 2 For other examples of the kind see §§ 1430 £. 


avoid A, you must refrain from doing B." The first proposition can 
be stated thus: "When B is done, A results." Similarly for the second. 

327. If both A and B are real things and if the nexus between 
them is actually logica-experimental, we get scientific propositions. 
They have nothing to do with the things we are trying to classify 
here. If the nexus is not logico-experimental, they are pseudo-scien- 
tific propositions, and a certain number of them are used to logical- 
ize non-logical actions. For instance, if A stands for a safe voyage 
and B for sacrifices to Poseidon, the nexus is imaginary, and the non- 
logical action B is justified by the nexus that connects it with A. But 
if A stands for a safe voyage and B for defective ship-building, we 
get just an erroneous scientific proposition. A mistake in engineer- 
in^ is not a non-logical action. 

328. If A and B are both imaginary, we are wholly outside the 
experimental field, and we need not consider such propositions. If 
A is imaginary and B real, we get non-logical actions, B, justified by 
the pretext, A. 

329. c. The proposition is really a precept, but a real sanction en- 
forced by an extraneous and red cause is appended to it. That gives 
a logical action : the thing is done to escape the sanction. 

330. d. The proposition is a precept, but the sanction is imag- 
inary, or enjorcible only by an imaginary power. We get a non- 
logical action justified by the sanction.^ 

331. The terms of ordinary speech rarely have sharply defined 
meanings. The term "sanction" may be used more or less loosely. 
Here we have taken it in the strict sense. Broadly speaking, one 
might say that a sanction is always present. In the case of a scientific 
proposition the sanction might be the pleasure of reasoning soundly 
or the pain of reasoning amiss. But to go into such niceties would 
be just a waste of time. 

332. Device B-I^3: Introduction of a divinity or of personified 
abstractions. A very simple elaboration of the taboo, or pure precept, 
is involved in the introduction of a personal god, or of personifica- 
tions such as Nature, by will of which non-logical actions are re- 

330 ^ For fuller explanation see Chapter IX (§§ 1480 £.), 


quired of human beings and are therefore logicaHzed. How the re- 
quirement arises is often left dark. "A god (or Nature) wills that 
so and so be done." "And if it is not done?" The question remains 
unanswered. But very often there is an answer; it is asserted that the 
god (or Nature) will punish violators of the precept. In such a case 
we get a sanctioned precept of the species d- above. 

333. When the Greeks said that "strangers and beggars come 
from Zeus," ^ they were merely voicing their inclination to be hos- 
pitable to visitors, and Zeus was dragged in to give a logical colour- 
ing to the custom, by implying that the hospitality was offered either , 
in reverence for Zeus, or to avoid the punishment that Zeus held in / 
store for violators of the precept. 

334. Device B-I^: Divinities plus legeitd and logical elaboration. 
Rare the case where such embellishments are not supplemented by 
multiple legends and logical elaborations; and through these new 
adjuncts we get mythologies and theologies that carry us farther and 
farther away from the concept of non-logical conduct. It may be 
worth while to caution that theologies at all complicated belong to 
restricted classes of people only. With them we depart from the 
field of popular interpretations and enter an intellectual or scholarly , 
domain. To the variety in question here belong the interpretations ■ 
of the Fathers of the Christian Church, such as the doctrine that the 
pagan gods were devils. 

335. Device B-I^: Metaphysical entities ta\en as real. Here real- 
ity is ascribed not to a personal god or to a personification, but to a 
metaphysical abstraction. "The true," "the beautiful," "the good," 
"the honest," "virtue," "morality," "natural law," "humanity," "soli- 
darity," "progress," or their opposite abstractions, enjoin or forbid 
certain actions, and the actions become logical consequences of the 

336. In interpretations of the B-I/3 variety, the personal god can 
inflict a punishment because he chooses to. In the case of "Nature" 
the punishment is an automatic consequence of the conduct. Those 

333 ■"■ Odyssey, VI, vv. 207-08: rrpof yap A;(5f e'laiv d-avreg ^elvoi rt tvtuxoI T€. 
335 ^ For the detailed argument see §§ i5io£. 


interpretations, therefore, are respectably logical. In the case of meta- 
physical abstractions, however, the logic is flimsy indeed. You tell 
a person, "You must do that because it is good," and he replies, 
"But I do not choose to do what is good." You are checkmated, 
for milord Good, estimable worthy that he may be, does not wield 
the thunderbolts that Zeus wields. So our latter-day Christians keep 
the God of the Old Testament but strip Him of all His weapons. 
There could be no trifling with the God of the Hebrews, who 
fiercely avenged transgressions of His laws, or with the God of St. 
Paul, who was no whit less quick to wrath. But, armed with the 
abstractions of their pseudo-science, with what can the neo-Chris- 
tians threaten the unbeliever ? Or what can they do for the believer 
to make his belief worth while? The answer is, "Nothing." The 
conduct they recommend is simply non-logical conduct. That does 
not mean that it may not be as beneficial to individual or society 
as any other, or even more so. It may or may not be. But in any 
event it is certain that it is not the logical inference from a principle, 
like the inference from the existence of a divine power and will that 
unbelievers will be punished and believers rewarded.^ 

336 ^ As for the God of the Hebrews, see Piepenbring, Theologie de I'Ancien Tes- 
tament, pp. 98-99: "The holiness of God is intimately bound up with His jealousy, 
His wrath, His vengeance. ... In the 'Old Canticle' {Ex. 15:7) Moses cries out to 
the Lord: '. . . In the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that 
rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stub- 
ble.' [Can any neo-Christian abstraction say as much?] The wrath of God breaks 
out in the form of dire punishment every time His will is crossed, disregarded, 
transgressed." These milk-and-water Christians are inclined to think that all that 
changed with the coming of Christ, but such is not the case. The early Church 
Fathers discourse without mincing words on the punishments that will be visited 
on unbelievers. As for the God of St. Paul, one of the many passages will sufSce: 
I Cor. 10:8: "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them [the Israelites] 
committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand [Num. 25:1-9]." Can 
the abstraction concocted by the pseudo-science of the neo-Christians pretend to do 
as much? No! Well, in that case the precept will be obeyed by those who are already 
good Christians, and no one who is not will pay any attention. But that is the es- 
sential characteristic of the principles (§ 306 ^) of non-logical actions. The Apostle 
continues: "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were 
destroyed of serpents [Num. 21:4-9]. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also 
murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer [Num. 11:16]." And later on, 22, 
he asks: "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than He?" Every 


337. Device B-Ie: What is real is the accord betweeji the prin- 
ciples and certain sentiments. This manner of envisaging facts is 
implicit rather than explicit. So for certain neo-Christians the reality 
of Jesus seems to come down to an accord between their conception 
of Him and certain sentiments they hold. They abandon the objec- 
tive field, deny the divine nature of Christ, and seem not to care 
very much about His historical reality. They are satisfied with as- 
serting that Christ is the most perfect type of humanity, which 
means that their notions of Christ happen to coincide with what, 
according to their sentiments, is the most perfect type of human 
being. Once on that road they finish by throwing all theology, all 
rites, overboard and end with the assertion that "religion is a man- 
ner of living." ^ 

338. Along that line they might seem to be approxim.ating the 
concept of non-logical conduct; but they are still radically at vari- 
ance with it, since they are thinking not of what is, but of what 
ought to be, and rob the "ought" of the subordinate character 

sensible man will answer no if the being in question is an omnipotent God; but 
many sensible men will answer yes if it is a question of an abstraction that some 
few individuals have distilled from their own sentiments. 

337 ^ Auguste Sabatier, Les religions d'antorite et la religion de V esprit, pp. 440-41 
(English translation, pp. 281-82): "The letter, the alphabetic sign, characterizes the 
Mosaic religion in accordance with the form of its appearance in history, its manner 
of being and action. . . . The letter kills. Spirit, instead, characterizes the religion 
of the Gospel in accord with the very nature of the inner moral relationship that it 
sets up between God and man, in accord with the manner of being of the Gospel 
and the principle of its action. ... In view of that you must surely understand 
what the religion of the spirit is. It is the religious relationship realized in pure 
spirituality. It is God and man conceived both as spirit and as reciprocally permeat- 
ing each other to the point of attaining complete communion. Physical bodies are 
by definition impenetrable to each other. . . . Quite otherwise the relationship be- 
tween spirits. Their inward tendency is to live each other's lives mutually and to 
combine in a higher common life. What the law of gravitation is to the physical 
world as regards the maintenance of its harmony, so love is and so love does in 
the spiritual and moral world. [The conception this gendeman has of the law of 
gravitation would make a story.] . . . Ultimate force in the moral development of 
the human being, the spirit of God no longer constrains him from without but 
determines, animates, him from within, and is the source of his life. . . . The ful- 
filment of natural duties, the regular exercise of all human faculties, the progress 
of enlightenment as well as of justice — that is the perfection of the Christian life. 
Becoming an inner reality, a fact of conscience, Christianity is now nothing more 
than conscience raised to its highest power." 


(§ 326) it might well have in the case of some few individuals, and 
give it an absolute status that altogether transcends the experimental 
field. Their theories, in a word, have no other purpose than to deco- 
rate non-logical impulse with a logical rouge. 

339. B-II: The reality is no longer direct; that is to say, it is no 
longer held that there is a god, a personification, an abstraction, or 
the like, from which non-logical actions may be logically inferred. // 
is assumed that such actions have arisen spontaneously, by reasonings 
good or bad based on facts well or badly authenticated. The differ- 
ence between this variety and the B-I group is a radical one; for 
whereas the B-I devices ascribed reality to entities foreign to the ex- 
perimental field, the entities posited in this variety arise within the ex- 
perimental field, and the only questions are whether they have actu- 
ally been observed and whether the assumed consequences are real 
consequences. "Beggars come from Zeus" is an interpretation of the 
B-I variety. I create the entity Zeus, which I assume to be real, and 
from its existence I draw certain inferences. "Whoever is hospitable 
to beggars will be happy" is an interpretation of the B-II variety. I 
pretend that I have observed that people who have been hospitable 
to beggars have been happy, and I draw the inference that if they 
continue to be hospitable to beggars they will continue to be happy. 
I have not created any entity ; I am using real facts, combining them 
as I see fit. 

340. Device B-IIa: Observation imperfect, inferences logical. This 
method of reasoning aims to throw back upon the premises a logico- 
experimental insufficiency that cannot be disputed. We have certain 
assertions that are manifestly in contradiction with logico-experi- 
mental knowledge. We may assume that the contradiction arises 
because the reasoning which produces the conclusions is not logical, 
and we are thereby carried into the domain of non-logical conduct. 
Or else we ma.y hold that the reasoning is logical, but that it starts 
with premises inconsistent with experimental knowledge and so 
leads to conclusions where the contradiction is likewise apparent. In 
that way we are able to remain within the field of logical conduct. 
Typical of this variety are the theories of Herbert Spencer (§§ 285, 



289-95). The role ascribed to non-logical conduct is reduced to a 
minimum and may even be eliminated. Underlying certain phe- 
nomena are certain observations of fact. It is assumed that from such 
alleged observations human beings have drawn inferences, reasoning 
very much as any thinker would reason. So we get the doctrines of 
those human beings and the reasons for their conduct. 

341. Concepts of this kind figure to a greater or lesser extent in 
almost all theories dealing with the "origins" of social phenomena 
such as "religion," "morality," "law," and the like. Writers are 
driven to admit the existence of non- logical actions but are careful 
to push them back into the past as far as they can. 

342. There may be some truth in such theories in so far as they 
call attention to certain simple types of complex phenomena. They 
go astray in trying to derive the complex phenomenon from the 
simple type, and still farther astray when it is assumed that that 
process is logical. 

343. Ignoring for the moment the complex character of social 
phenomena, let us assume that certain phenomena P, observable at 
the present day, have an actual origin A (Figure 9). If the develop- 
ment took place along a continuous line ABCDP, it 
would be possible, in a sense, to take one of the inter- 
mediate phenomena B, C . . . a.s the origin, or cause, 
of P. If, for instance, going as far back as our historical 
knowledge permits, we found a thing B of the same 
nature as P, though much simpler, we should not go 
too far wrong in regarding it as the origin, or cause, 
of P. 

344. Unfortunately the assumption of development along a con- 
tinuous line does not at all conform with the facts as regards social 
phenomena, or even as regards not a few biological phenomena. The 

.development, rather, seems to take place along a line with many 
branches (Figure 10), even still ignoring the complex character of 
social phenomena, which hardly permits us to dissociate the social 
phenomenon P from other social phenomena (§ 513). Facts B, C, D 
. . . (Figure 10) are no longer located along a straight continuous 


line, but stand at the extremities or intersections of branch Hnes; 
and we cannot, even as a hypothesis very remotely approximative to 
the facts, assume that C, for example, or E, or any other similar fact 
observable in the past, is the origin, the cause, of P, observable in the 

345. To take a concrete example : Reinach sees in taboos the origin 
of religion. In so doing, he seems to take the position pictured in 
Figure 9, B standing for the taboos, P for present-day religions. But 
even assuming that religion is unconnected with other social phe- 


Figure 10 

nomena, the situation is actually as represented in Figure 10, and the 
taboos B would be the extremity of a by-path. Taboos cannot be 
taken as the origin of religion. They may be regarded as simple 
types of phenomena, of which the religions C, Q, P are complex 
types. That is all the truth there is in the theories of Reinach, a 
fairly important truth, for that matter, since it emphasizes the part 
played by non-logical actions in religious phenomena. 

346. Studies in origins in social matters often proceed very much 
after the manner of old-fashioned etymology.^ The intermediate 

346 ^ Brachet, Gra7nmaire historique de la langue francaise, pp. 293-94 (Kitchin, 
pp. 195-96): "Before attaining the degree of exactness that it possesses today, etymol- 
ogy, like all the sciences and perhaps more notably than any other, traversed a long 
period of infancy, of gropings, of uncertain efforts, during which arbitrary associa- 
tions, superficial analogies, reckless combinations, made up virtually its whole patri- 
mony." Here Brachet quotes from Reville, Les ancStres des europeens: " 'Abidingly 
famous the day-dreams of Plato in the Cratylus, the absurd etymologies of Varro 
[Etymologiae, Dordrecht, Part III, pp. 165-176] and Quintilian among the Romans, 
the philological fancies of Menage in France in the seventeenth century. People saw 
nothing strange about connecting jetme, "fast," with jeune, "young." Is not youth the 
morning of life, and is one not fasting when one gets up.^* Most often two words 


Steps C, D . . , (Figure 9) are assumed or guessed at, in getting 
from B to P; and the temptation is to ask how things ought to have 
gone rather than how they actually went. Investigations, in such a 
case. He outside the domain of experimental reality. Yet, historically 
speaking, they have not been altogether wasted : for they have served 
!' to open a breach in the ethical and a priori theories that have been 
explaining P by imaginary principles. That task accomplished, it is 
now time for them to give way to purely experimental theories. 

347. Device B-II/? : Myths have a historical basis or else are imita- 
tions of other myths. Origins and evolution being discarded, it is 

i| assumed that every myth is the deformed reflection of something 
real. Of this variety were the euhemeristic theories, so called, as to 
the origin of the pagan gods (§§ 682-708). Nothing is more certain 
than that there have been cases where human beings have been 
deified. The^^euliemeristic error lies, first of all, in generalizing a 
particular fact, and then in confusing the point B in Figure 9 with 
the point B in Figure 10, in assuming, that is, that because one fact 
precedes another fact in time, it is the origin of it. The theories of 
Palaephatus (§661) also belong to this variety. 

348. In general, interpretations of this kind are very easy to work 
out. One arbitrarily changes in a myth anything that needs to be 
changed to produce a picture that is real. Take, for example, As- 
tolfo's hippogriff in the Orlando furioso of Ariosto, The winged 
horse can be made a real horse by interpreting the story in the sense 
that the hippogrifl was some very swift horse that was therefore 
spoken of as having wings. Dante sees Francesca and her brother- 
in-law lashed by "the hellish hurricane." The hurricane can be in- 
terpreted as a symbol of the carnal passion that smites the two lovers 

of entirely different forms were derived from each other, the gulf between them 
being bridged by fictional intermediaries. That was the way Menage got the French 
rat from the Latin mus, "mouse": "People must have said first mus, then murattts, 
then ratus, finally rat." It was courageously assumed that an object could get its 
name from a quality opposite to its own, affirmation provoking negation, so that 
Latin luctts, "grove," came from non Ulcere, "not to be bright," because on entering 
a grove one finds it shady.' " Brachet continues: "From such a mass of erudite non- 
sense how could one of the leading sciences eventually arise in our day.'' By the 
discovery and application of the comparative method, which is the method of the 
natural sciences" — and the method we are trying to follow in tliese volumes. 


like a hurricane. In such a procedure not the sHghtest difficulty will 
ever be encountered (§66i). 

349. With this variety we may class theories that explain the non- 
logical actions observable in a given society as imitations of non- 
logical actions prevalent in other societies. To tell the truth, not all 
non-logical actions are eliminated by this device; they are merely 
reduced in number, several of them being taken as duplicates of 

^ one.^ 

350. Device B-IIy: Myths taken as historical fact plus a fictional 
r-^ I appendage. In this variety we come a little closer to reality. In every 

/ myth the legend is assumed to have a nucleus of historical fact cov- 
ered over by an alluvium of fiction. One removes the accretion, and 
finds the nucleus of fact underneath. Many books have been written 
from that point of view. Not so long since all the legends that have 
come down from Graeco-Roman antiquity were treated in that way.^ 
Our variety B-II/?, above, is often the present variety, B-IIj/, car- 
ried to the extreme. There may be something historical in a myth, 
a something more or less extensive. As it is reduced to a minimum 
and finally disappears, we get the B-II/? variety. 

351. Device B-III: The principles underlying non-logical actions 
are allegories. The actions, it is held, are in reality logical. They 
seem to be non-logical only because the allegories are taken literally. 
A further assumption locates the source of such errors in language 
by an allegorical interpretation. Max Miiller writes:^ "There are 
many myths in Hesiod, of late origin, where we have only to replace 
a full verb by an auxiliary, in order to change mythical into logical 
language. Hesiod [Theogonia, vv. 211-12 (White, pp. 94-95)], calls 
Nyx (Night) the mother of Moros (Fate), and the dark Ker (De- 
struction), of Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of 
the Oneiroi (Dreams). . . . Now let us use our modern expressions, 
such as: 'the stars are seen as night approaches,' 'we sleep,' 'we 
dream,' 'we die,' 'we run danger during the night' . . . and we 

349 ^ For examples see §§ 733 f. 

350 ^ For several such interpretations see Chapter V. 

351 ^ Chips from a German Workjhop, Vol. II, p. 64. [The French translation 
which Pareto used for this passage has a number of errors. — A. L.] 



have translated the language of Hesiod . . . into modern forms of 
thought and speech." 

352. On that basis all myths would be charades. It seems incred- 
ible that a theory so manifestly absurd could have gained such wide 
acceptance. Miiller's disciples did even worse than their master, and 
the solar myth became a convenient and universal explanation for 
every conceivable legend. 

353. Class C. In this class, really, non-logical actions are not inter- 
preted in such a way as to make them logical. They are eliminated, 
so that only logical actions are left. That serves just as well to reduce 
all conduct to logic. Such opinions are widely current in our time, 
and are an article of faith with a great many people who worship a 
powerful divinity known to them as "Science." Not a few humani- 
tarians are of the same tribe. 

354. Other people reason more soundly; and after noting a thing 
that is true enough — that science has contributed greatly to the ad- 
vance of civilization — they go farther still and try to show that noth- 
ing that is not science can be useful. As the type of such theories 
one might quote the celebrated argument of Buckle : ^ "It is evident, 
that if we look at mankind in the aggregate, their moral and intel- 
lectual conduct is regulated by the moral and intellectual notions 
prevalent in their own time. . . . Now, it requires but a superficial 
acquaintance with history to be aware that this standard is con- 
stantly changing. . . . This extreme mutability in the ordinary 
standard of human actions shows that the conditions on which the 
standard depends must themselves be very mutable; and these con- 
ditions, whatever they may be, are evidently the originators of the 
moral and intellectual conduct of the great average of mankind. 

"Here, then, we have a basis on which we can safely proceed. 
We know that the main cause of human actions is extremely vari- 
able; we have only, therefore, to apply this test to any set of circum- 
stances which are supposed to be the cause, and if we find that such 
circumstances are not very variable, we must infer that they are not 
the cause we are attempting to discover. 

354 '^History of Civilization in England, Vol. I, pp. 179-82. 


"Applying this test to moral motives, or to the dictates of what is 
called moral instinct, we shall at once see how extremely small is 
the influence those motives have exercised over the progress of civi- 
lization. For there is, unquestionably, nothing to be found in the 
world which has undergone so little change as those great dogmas 
of which moral systems are composed. . . . 

"But, if we contrast this stationary aspect of moral truths with 
the progressive aspect of intellectual truths, the difference is indeed 
startling.^ All the great moral systems which have exercised much 
influence have been fundamentally the same; all the great intellec- 
tual systems have been fundamentally different. . . . Since civiliza- 
tion is the product of moral and intellectual agencies, and since that 
product is constantly changing, it evidently cannot be regulated by 
the stationary agent; because when surrounding circumstances are 
unchanged, a stationary agent can only produce a stationary effect. 
The only other agent is the intellectual one; and that this is the real 
mover may be proved." 

355. Buckle's reasoning is sound provided one add that all human 
conduct is logical and derives from moral and intellectual principles. 
But that proposition is false. In the first place, many very important 
actions are non-logical. Secondly, the things designated by the terms 
"moral principle" and "intellectual principle" are wanting in exact- 
ness: they cannot be taken as premises in a rigorous argument. 
Thirdly, Buckle's reasoning has the general defect of arguments by 
elimination in sociological matters — the enumeration is never com- 
plete.^ He omits things of great importance. Theoretical principles 
of morality may be the same, and moral practices very different — for 
instance, the peoples who all preach the Christian ethics by no means 
all behave in the same way in practice.^ 

356. Buckle's argument reduces the practical role of moral the- 

354 ^ Buckle quotes James Mackintosh, Condorcet, and Kant, in support. 

355 ^ Pareto, Maiiuale, Chap. I, § 18. 

355 " [Fielding, Totn Jones, IX, iii, 2: ". . . purposes . . . which though toler- 
ated in some Christian countries, connived at in others and practised in all . . . are 
expressly forbidden ... by that religion which is universally believed in in those 
countries." — A. L.] 

§358 BAYLE 225 

ories to very small proportions, and in that it accords with the facts. 
But what it takes away from morals ought not be handed over to 
an "intellectual principle" (whatever that may be), but to the patri- 
mony of non-logical actions, economic progress, improvements in 
communications, and the like. It may well be that something has 
to be assigned to scientific progress all the same, and therefore to 
the said "intellectual principle"; but there is a big difference between 
such indirect, non-logical influence, and a direct action by way of 
logical inference from a given principle.^ 

357. We need carry our study of this special classification no far- 
ther. It has already shown that existing doctrines may be broken up 
into two different elements: certain sentiments, and inferences from 
those sentiments. It opens, in other words, a path that it may or 
may not be profitable to follow to the end. We shall see as we go on. 

358. Many statesmen, many historians, recognize non-logical ac- 
tions without giving them that name and without going to the 
trouble of finding their theory. Just a few examples taken here and 
there from the works of Bayle,^ implicit in which are several theories 
of non-logical conduct — and it is indeed surprising to find in a 
writer who lived two centuries and more ago certain truths that are 
unappreciated even today. Bayle declares and repeats that "opinions 
are not the rule of conduct"; and that "man does not regulate his 
conduct by his opinions. . . . The Turks hold certain tenets of that 
doctrine of the Stoics [fatalism], and they carry the business of 
predestination to extreme lengths. Nevertheless they may be seen 

356 ^ Here and there in his work Buckle himself ends by making at least implicit 
allusion to non-logical actions. Trying to account for the differences between the 
Puritan Revolution and the French Fronde, he suggests. Vol. II, p. 150, "that in 
England a war for liberty was accompanied by a war of classes, while in France 
there was no war of classes at all"; and further. Vol. II, p. 162, that "the object of 
the [French] nobles was merely to find new sources of excitement, and minister to 
that personal vanity for which, as a body, they have always been notorious." Now 
whatever the route that is tried in order to get from such facts to logical inferences 
from an "intellectual principle," it is certain that the facts depend on natural in- 
clinations, which cannot be regarded as resulting from any differences between the 
scientific and intellectual attainments of the English and the French at that period. 
No such differences existed. 

358 ^ Pensees diver ses, § 138. 


to flee danger as other men do, and they are far from charging in 
battle with the courage of the French, who do not beUeve in pre- 
destination." The existence and importance of non-logical conduct 
could not be recognized in plainer terms. Find a general form for 
this observation of particular fact, and we get the starting-point for 
a theory of non-logical conduct. 
i 359. Bayle further observes. Ibid., § 139: "It cannot be said that 
' people who fail to live according to the precepts of their religion 
do not believe in a God"; and he presses the point, Ibid., § 136: 
"Man does not act according to his principles. He may be as rational 
a creature as you like, but it is none the less true that he almost never 
acts according to his principles. [In other words his conduct is non- 
logical.] He has indeed the strength, in speculative matters, not to 
draw wrong conclusions ; for in such reflections he sins rather in his 
readiness to accept false principles than in drawing mistaken con- 
clusions from them. But it is quite another matter when good morals 
are in question. [A particular remark that is true in general.] In 
morals he almost never hits on false principles. Almost always the 
ideas of natural equity are present in his conscience. Nevertheless 
he is always deciding in favour of his uncontrolled desires. [The 
usual vague phraseology, but the substance accords with fact.] . . . 
The true principle of human conduct ... is naught but tempera- 
ment, the natural inclination to pleasure, the taste for certain things, 
the desire to please, the habits acquired in intercourse with friends, 
or some other disposition arising from the depths of human nature, 
whatever the country in which one is born [This contradicts the 
preceding and is to be deleted.] and whatever the knowledge that 
has been instilled in the mind." 

That comes very close to the facts. If we tried to give greater 
precision to Bayle's language, and establish a stricter classification, 
would we not have a theory of non-logical actions — their great im- 
portance so becoming more and more apparent ? 

360. Bayle quotes with approval a passage from Nicolle : " 'When 
the time comes for human beings to pass from speculation to action, 
they do not follow consequences; and strange it is to see how the 


human mind can stop at certain speculative truths without going 
on to their logical consequences in practice, which seem so bound 
up with those truths as to be in no way separable from them.' " ^ 

361. Bayle soundly enough observes, Ibid., § 51, that "the pagan 
religion was satisfied with an external rite" (§ 174); but he went 
wrong in believing. Ibid., § 122, that it "had no influence on morals." 

' He failed to perceive that ritual practices intensified sentiments (non- 
^ logical actions) and that such sentiments were in turn sources of 

362. He goes to some pains to prove that atheism is preferable to 
idolatry. To understand him aright we have to take account of the 
times in which he was living and the perils to which he was exposed. 
Just as in our time there are persons who give perpetual chase to 
"immoral" books, so in Bayle's time there were those who kept open 
season on books against Christianity. Unable to whip the horse, 
Bayle whips the saddle, and belabours idolatry with criticisms that 
apply just as well to all religions. At bottom his argument tends to 
show that since the majority of human actions are non-logical, forms 
of belief are of no great importance. 

363. Montesquieu did not get that point, and his reply to what he 
calls "Bayle's paradox" is of little or no value. He is solving the prob- 
lem by restating it when he says: "A prince who loves religion 
and fears it is a lion surrendering to the hand that caresses it, or 
to the voice that quiets it; the prince who fears religion and hates 
it is like the wild beast biting at the chains that keep it from attack- 
ing passers-by; the prince who has no religion at all is the terrible 
beast that never feels his freedom till he is rending and devouring." ^ 
Underlying all this declamation, which is mere fustian, is the prop- 
osition, evidently, that human beings act logically in accord with 
their beliefs. But that is the very thing Bayle denies; and proofs, not 

360 ^ Continuation des Pensees diverses, § 139. 

363 ^ U esprit des his, XXIV, 2: Paradoxe de Bayle. Montesquieu was right in 
saying that "in order to attenuate the horrors of atheism" Bayle was "too severe on 
idolatry"; but he should have recognized Bayle's artifice in doing that. It was a 
trick he used himself on other occasions. 


mere asseverations of the opposite, were required to refute him 

364. Taking his stand on logical conduct, Montesquieu says that 
"even if it were useless for subjects to have religions it would not 
be useless for princes to have them." Starting with the premise of 
non-logical conduct, we are carried to a conclusion directly opposite: 
the person in command needs rational combinations particularly, 
and the person who obeys needs more particularly an unreasoned 
rule independent of his scant knowledge. 

365. The weakness in Bayle's argument is not the one that Mon- 
tesquieu criticizes. It lies in an altogether different direction. After 
noting and amply demonstrating that human beings do not act ac- 
cording to logical inferences from principles, from opinions, and 
that a great many human actions of great importance are non-log- 
ical, Bayle should have centred his attention upon such actions. 
Then he would have seen that they were of many kinds; and he 
would have had to decide whether they were independent or influ- 
enced one another mutually. He would readily have seen that they 
do exert reciprocal influences, and therefore that the social impor- 
tance of religion lies not at all in the logical value of its dogmas, 
its principles, its theology, but rather in the non-logical actions that 
it promotes. He was actually on the road to that conclusion when he 
asserted that "a religion has to be judged by the cult which it prac- 
tises"; and when he stated that the pagan religion stopped at a 
purely external ritualism, he could hardly have been closer to ex- 
perimental truth. One step more and he would have had the truth 
entire. But unfortunately he turns aside. Instead of judging religions, 
which are non-logical actions, by their social influence, he loses his 
way in questions as to their moral value, or better, as to their rela- 
tion to what he is pleased to call "morality" ; and in that we have a 
counter-attack by logic, which is again invading territory from 
which it had been expelled. 

From that point of view one might repeat of Bayle what Sumner 
Maine says of him in commenting on the writings of Rousseau : ^ 

365 ^ Ancient Law, p. 84. 

§366 BAYLE 229 

"It [Rousseau's] was the first attempt to re-erect the edifice of 
human behef after the purely iconoclastic efforts commenced by 
Bayle, and in part by our own Locke, and consummated by Vol- 
taire." But that goes to show how, in view of the indefiniteness of 
ordinary language, utterly different concepts may be expressed in 
the same words. Maine is thinking not of science or theory but of 
practice, as is clearly apparent from what immediately follows.: "and 
[Rousseau's system has], besides, the superiority which every con- 
structive effort will always enjoy over one that is merely destruc- 
tive." It is not the function of theory to create beliefs, but to explain 
existing ones and discover their uniformities. Bayle took a great 
step forward in that direction in exposing the vacuity of certain 
interpretations and opening the way for the discovery of others more 
consistent with the facts. From the standpoint of theory, his work, 
far from being inferior to Rousseau's, is as superior to Rousseau's 
as the astronomy of Kepler is superior to the astronomy of Cosmas 
Indicopleustes. He may be blamed only for stopping too soon on 
a road which he had so splendidly opened. 

366. Why he did so is hard to guess. The case is not rare. It would 
seem as though in science it is often necessary to destroy before 
building can begin. It may also be that Bayle was deterred from a 
complete expression of his ideas by the moral and religious persecu- 
tions common in his time, that the atmosphere of persecution af- 
fected the thinker not only materially but intellectually also, and 
constrained him to disguise his thought under certain forms. Just 
so in our own time persecutions and annoyances of all sorts emanat- 
ing from votaries of the religion of sexual virtue have created an 
atmosphere of hypocrisy in speech and thought that influences writ- 
ing. And so, if in some future age the expression of human thought 
comes to be liberated from sex "ties" just as it has already been freed 
of the ties requiring deference to the Bible, people desiring to under- 
stand the thought of writers of our day will have to take account of 
the masks with which it is disguised in deference to contemporary 
prejudices. Another cause may have been the scientific inadequacies 
of ordinary language. If Bayle had not had at his disposal such terms 

< / 


as "religion" and "morality," which seem to be exact but are not, 
he would have been compelled to deal with things instead of with 
words, sentiments, fictions; and in that case perhaps he might not 
have lost his way (§ 114). 

367. But his case is merely typical of a vastly populous class of 
cases where error in argument is directly proportionate to defects 
in language. Anyone, therefore, desirous of remaining in the logico- 
experimental field and concerned not to be led astray into the do- 
main of sentiment, must ever be on his watch against this the great- 
est enemy of science (§ 119). In social matters, human beings as a 
rule use language that lures them away from the logico-experi- 
mental domain. What does such language really mean ? We have to 
be clear on that question before we can go farther, and to it we shall 
devote the chapter next following. 


Theories Transcending Experience 

368. We are still with our induction. There are phenomena to 
v/hich certain names are given in ordinary language: there are nar- 
rations, theories, doctrines, that refer to social facts. How are we to 
take them? Do they correspond to anything exact (§114)? Even 
when suitably retouched in form, can they be classed as logico- 
experimental theories (§ 13), or are they to be taken as non-logico- 
experimental .f^ Even when grouped with the latter, do they cor- 
respond to something, at least, that is definite.? ^^ 

The study here in hand relates exclusively to the logico-experl- 
mental validity that certain arguments may (or may not) have. For 
the time being we deliberately ignore all questions as to the senti- 
ments they hide, their persuasive force, the possible social utility of 
the underlying sentiments, and hence of the things that provoke 
them. Here, in a word, we are considering theories strictly from the 
objective standpoint (§13). 

Interesting and very important for sociology are the phenomena 
designated in ordinary language by the terms "religion," "moral- 
ity," "law." For centuries people have quarrelled about those terms, 
and so far they have reached no agreement even as to what they 
mean. They have been defined in many many ways, and since the 
definitions do not coincide, people have come to designate different 
things by the same names — an excellent means for never coming 
to an understanding. What is the cause of that ? And should we try 
to add other definitions to the many already given? Or would it not 
be better to try to get at the character of such phenomena in some 
other way (§ 118)? 

369. We have narratives, such as the Gospel according to St. John, 

that many have taken and still take to be historical narrative. Others 

say that it is just allegory; others that it is allegory combined with 

history; while still others claim to have a formula for separating 



what is historical from what is allegorical. Similar opinions were 
once current with regard to the myths of polytheism, and the pro- 
cedure seems to be general. What are we to think of these various 
opinions? Should we select one from among them? Or is some 
I other path open to us? There are no end of theories on morality, 
law, and so on. If we could find that one among them was true in 
the sense that it fits the facts, our task would be appreciably easier. 
But if we can find none such, how are we to proceed? 

370. . Induction may put us in the way of recognizing certain ex- 
perimental uniformities. If we succeed in finding them, we can then 
proceed in the opposite direction, that is, deductively, and compare 
our inferences with the facts. If they are in agreement, we can accept 
the hypotheses we have been using — the experimental principles ob- 
tained in our induction. If they are not in agreement, we must 
reject those hypotheses, those principles (§§52, 69). 

371. Suppose we stop for a moment and examine the term "reli- 
gion" — and what we say of religion will apply by analogy to other 
terms of the kind, "morality," "law," and the like, which will fre- 
quently be crossing our path. To admit a priori the existence of re- 
ligion (morality, law) leads to seeking the definition of it; and mce 
versa, the search for the definition presupposes the existence of the 
thing for which a definition is sought. It is a most impressive fact 
that all attempts so far made to find definitions of that kind have 
failed. Before going farther, we must recall the distinction between 
real movements and virtual movements (§§ 129-30). At present we 
are studying real movements only. We are, in other words, dealing 
with what is: we are not trying to discover what ought to be in 
order that this or that end may be attained. 

372. Now a confusion is usually present in- the U5e of the words 
"religion" ("morality," "law"). Not only are the investigations of 
real movements and virtual movements often confused, but even 
when they are distinguished and a writer declares he is keeping to 
real movements, two, or, to be more exact, many aspects of real 
movements are not kept distinct, or are not kept clearly distinct. 

373. In fact, theory has to be kept distinct from practice. In a given 

§377 RELIGION 233 

people at a given period of history there is a theoretical religion 
(morality, law) and a practical religion (morality, law). We say a 
religion, a morality, a law, for the sake of brevity: really there are 
more than one, many many more than one, even where there is 
apparent unity (§§464f.). These facts are undeniable, but they are 
usually stated in such a way as to minimize their importance as far 
as possible. 

374. We observe, accordingly, that a certain religion (morality, 
law) is assumed to exist. For the believer it is the one he calls "true." 

I Of it the theoretical religions observable are deviations, and practical 
\ religions are in their turn deviations of the theoretical religions. For 
a parallel, there is a given theorem in geometry. It may be demon- 
strated more or less well — and so we get theoretical deviations; it 
may be understood more or less well — and so we get practical devia- 
tions. But all that does not lessen the strict truth of the theorem as 

375. If the comparison held to the very end, the meaning of the 
term "religion" ("morality," "law") would be as exact as one 
might wish. The term would designate a certain type that might 
even be inferred from existing facts — a thing not possible with a 
theorem in geometry — by stripping the facts of incidentals and keep- 
ing to essentials, or else, as the evolutionists would have it, by de- 
termining the limit towards which the facts tend. 

376. Unfortunately that is not the situation. Everybody is firmly 
convinced diat his religion (morality, law) is the true type. But he 
has no means of imparting his conviction to anyone else. He 
cannot appeal to experience in general nor to that special kind of 
experience represented by logical argument. In a dispute between ' 
two chemists there is a judge: experience. In a dispute between a 
Moslem and a Christian, who is the judge? Nobody (§§ 16 f.). 

377. In our times there are people who think they can evade this 
dilemma by abandoning the supernatural; they imagine that diver- 
gences can arise only in that domain. But they are wrong, just as the 
various sects of Christianity were wrong in a day gone by in believ- 
ing that differences of opinion arose only from varying interpreta- 


tions of the Scriptures which themselves were above discussion. 

378. From the logico-experimental standpoint nothing is gained 
by replacing supernatural beings with metaphysical principles; for 
the metaphysical principles can be affirmed or denied as readily as 

'the existence of a god, and there is no judge to settle the dispute 


379. It is of no avail to appeal the issue to public indignation. Cer- 
tainly, at the time of the quarrels between Lutherans and Catholics, 
to have asserted that from the logico-experimental point of view the 
Scriptures had the same value as the Theogony of Hesiod would 
have been to arouse general, not to say unanimous, indignation in 
Europe. And in the same way to dare question in our day the dogma 
that the sole purpose of society is the "good of the greatest number," 
and that it is the strict duty of every individual to sacrifice himself 
for the good of the lowly and the humble, would be to arouse if not 
universal at least fairly general indignation. But scientific problems 
are solved by facts, not by the holy horror of the few, the many, the 

380. Along that route, therefore, we can never get to sharply de- 
fined meanings for our terms. Yet that is the first thing to be done if 
we would discuss matters of science fruitfully; whereas if the same 
term is used in a different sense by each individual, rigorous argu- 
ment becomes impossible (§§442, 490, 965). 

381. That manner of reasoning, moreover, has the very serious 
defect of bringing into the matter of definition disputes that should 
not arise until, owing to clear definitions, we can state exactly what 
the argument is about (§§ 119, 387, 963). 

382. If one sets out to define what the "true" religion is, or the 
"type" religion, or the "ultimate" religion, it is evident that such a 
definition cannot be left to the choice of one's adversary, since the 
term contains a thesis: it asserts that the thing defined is the thing 
that corresponds to the truth, the type, the limit. That is the chief 
reason why physicists never dream of quarrelling over the name to 
be given to X-rays, chemists over the term "radium," or astronomers 
over the names for any one of the countless asteroids (except in cases 


where the personal vanity of some discoverer may be involved); 
whereas no end of breath is still being wasted over the definition to 
be given to "religion" ("morality," "law") (§ 119). 

383. Here is Salomon Reinach, writing a book called Orpheus: 
A General History of Religions and which might be better called 
A General History of Religions, as Viewed in the Light of the Drey- 
fus Case. He believes that the dogmas of the Catholic, in fact of the 
Christian, religion are false, whereas the dogmas of his humani- 
tarian-democratic religion are true. He may be right. He may be 
wrong. We are not going to argue that point; nor do we think that 
experimental science can be of the slightest service in solving such a 
problem. At any rate, the problem ought to be treated independently 
of definitions, whereas Reinach tries to make his readers accept a 
definition that will help him to establish his thesis. His adversaries 
are getting support from Catholic beliefs; so he tries to show that 
that religion is, substantially, nothing more nor less than the tabooism 
of the backward peoples. For that reason he has to eliminate from 
the very definition of "religion" everything corresponding to a 
higher intellectual grade. That he does quite skilfully, for his defini- 
tion does not after all go very far wide of the facts (§ 1032).^ But his 
theses, be they true or false, ought to be stated as theses — as proposi- 

383 ^ Orpheus, Chap. I, § 5 (Simmonds, p, 3) : "I intend to define religion as 
a 'sum of scruples that interfere with the free exercise of human faculties.' . . . 
The scruples in question . . . are of a special kind. ... I will call them 'taboos.' " 
He goes on to explain that the scruple involved in the taboo "is never based on 
any rational consideration of a practical order, such as fear of getting pricked 
or otherwise hurt, in the case of a tree-taboo." Just previously (§1), Reinach 
had said: "Mythology is an assemblage of concocted stories — not invented, but 
capriciously combined and embellished — where the characters are beyond all verifi- 
cadon in positive history. Religion, primarily, is a sentiment, plus the expression of 
that sentiment by acts of a special kind, namely, rites." Reinach is here considering 
mythology not as in process of formation, but as a thing ready-made and fully 
developed, perhaps even in the first stages of decadence — at a point, at any rate, 
where without scruple poetical elaborations may be appended to popular beliefs 
(§§ 1086-88). Accepdng for the moment that very special standpoint, it is evident 
that in what he says Reinach takes account, though in no very specific terms, of 
both logical and non-logical conduct. Religion would be essentially non-logical, 
made up of what we are to call residues (Chapter VI). Mythology would, essen- 
tially, be a matter of literary and logical embellishments, of what we are to call 
derivations (Chapter IX). 


tions subject by their very nature to controversy — and not tucked 
into a definition, which is, in part at least, at the arbitrary discretion 
of the author. 

384. But here, on the other side, rises Father Marie-Joseph La- 
grange, who believes that the Catholic dogmas are true and who 
naturally cannot, on pain of suicide, accept Reinach's definition. He 
says: "M. Reinach seems to think that a good definition has to apply 
to the full breadth of meaning which a term has acquired even by 
abuse." ^ In that we get, fundamentally, the concept of the "type" 
religion: once you depart from the type, you fall into an "abuse." 
Father Lagrange ignores the fact that what is for him a type is for 
someone else an abuse, and vice versa. He continues: "Because people 
speak, abusively — the figure is called catachresis in rhetoric — of a 
'religion of honour,' that definition has to be accounted for in the 
definition of reHgion in general!" Yes and no! Yes — it has to be 
included if one is trying to define "what people call religion," just 
as the definition of the conjugation of an irregular verb has to be 
accounted for in a general definition of conjugation, if one is trying 
to define "what grammarians call conjugation"; and there is no 
point in debating whether the irregular conjugation is abusive or 
whether the regular conjugation is the abuse. Or no — the particular 
definition need not be accounted for in the general definition if one 
has previously and explicitly excluded facts of a certain order — a 
thing that Father Lagrange is not at all inclined to do. I can say that 
in Latin the active verbs of the first conjugation form their future 
in -abo, -abis, -abit . . . ; because when I specify "active verbs of the 
first conjugation," I previously and explicitly exclude all other verbs. 
But I could not give those endings for verbs in general and then, 
when I am shown the future forms legam, leges, for the verb lego, 
get out of my predicament by saying that legam is an abuse. I can 
say (it might not be true) that "originally" the active endings of the 
principal tenses of Greek verbs were -^t, -at, -Tt . . . because I have 
explicitly and in advance specified that I am dealing with original 

384 ^ Quelques remarques sur I'Orpheus de M. Salomon Reinach, pp. 8-9 (Mar- 
tindale, p. 11). 

§387 RELIGION 237 

forms, a qualification which permits me to disregard verbs in -6 
by holding (rightly or wrongly) that they are not primitive or 
original. But I could not state sweepingly, without specific qualifi- 
cation as to origins, that Greek verbs ended in -^t, -gl, -rt . . . and 
then try to be rid of the verbs in -a by calling them an abuse. In 
short, what is Father Lagrange trying to define.? What people call 
religion (a linguistic question)? Or something else.'^ And in the 
latter case, just what is the something else.f^ Unless he tells us, we 
cannot decide whether his definition is good or bad. 

385. Father Lagrange continues: "And we wind up with this 
definition of religion: a sum of scruples that interfere with the free 
exercise of human faculties! One would think it a question of a bet; 
for, with triumphant ingenuousness, Reinach proceeds to observe 
that his definition eliminates from the fundamental concept of re- 
ligion everything that people commonly regard as the proper object 
of the religious sentiment!" 

386. So it would seem that Father Lagrange is looking for what 
is commonly designated by the term "religion." That would take us 
back to the linguistic question. But look out for that word "com- 
monly" — for in it treachery lies! What does it mean — "commonly".'^ 
Are we to compile statistics of the opinions of mankind ? And only 
of people living today, or also of people who have lived in times 
past? Of Europeans only, or of all human beings who are living 
or have lived on the face of the earth ? And are we to count opinions, 
or are we to weigh them (§ 595) ? If we weigh them, with what 
scales? It would seem as though Father Lagrange were inclined to 
weigh them, since he calls some of them abusive; but in that case 
we may rest assured that if he selects the scales, they will register the 
weights he v/ishes them to register; and that if his adversary selects 
them, they will show an entirely different weight. Then again, 
besides religion in general there are religions in particular. What are 
we to do with them ? In order to bar them, we have to go back to die 
theory of the type religion. 

387. Father Lagrange adds: "It is another way of saying that 
M. Reinach's definition is contemptible. Logicians undoubtedly 


grant that a word has only the sense that is given it; but to define a 
traditional term in a sense counter to the general acceptation is a 
childish jest or a trap for fools." 

But, just a moment! Can we be so sure? The thing that chemists 
call water is not what is commonly called water; nor is the gold of 
the chemists the gold of ordinary language. For the multitude a 
five-dollar gold-piece is made of gold ; for the chemist it is a mixture 
of gold and copper with traces of many other elements. It was not 
at all a "childish jest" to define chemical bodies in a manner counter 
to "general acceptations"; on the contrary, that was the only thing 
to do to elevate chemistry to dignified status as a science (§ 115). 
Reinach is perfectly free to define the term "religion" counter to 
"general acceptation," provided: (i) that he gives a definition that 
is clear and exact; (2) that he does not confuse the thing which he 
is defining with some other thing that bears the same name; and 
(3) that there is some advantage in his new definition to compen- 
sate us for our trouble in remembering that the "refigion" of Reinach 
is not the "religion" of other people. To spare us that trouble and 
avoid all danger of misunderstandings, it would be well if, instead 
of employing a term already in use, he were to use some other 
(§ 117), saying, for example: "I will call X the sum of scruples that 
interfere with the free exercise of human faculties." After that, but 
only after that (§381), he might formulate a thesis such as this: 
"X will be found present in everything that human beings call 
religion, and nowhere else." It would then be possible to verify on 
the facts the truth or falsity of the proposition (§ 963). 

388. Suppose we do that now. From no other standpoint can 
experimental science envisage such questions. The chemist tells us 
that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen. The first of 
the conditions that we laid down is satisfied. The second is also 
satisfied, because in no treatise on chemistry is chemically pure 
water ever confused with the thing commonly known as water. 
And likewise satisfied is the third, because the advantage of knowing 
the exact composition of the thing called water is self-evident 
(§§ 108, 69 ^). Then we are told that chemical water is the principal 



ingredient of the thing commonly called water that is found in 
wells, lakes, rivers, the sea, the rain. We verify the proposition and 
see that it is true. If someone went on and said that chemical water 
is not the principal ingredient in things not commonly known as 
water, the verification would not turn out so well; for water is the 
principal ingredient in wines, beers, syrups, and the like. 

389. To avoid ambiguities, suppose we give a name to the thing 
defined by Reinach and call it religion-a. If we find that religion-a 
is identical with ordinary religion, so much the better for Reinach's 
religion. We are in no way disparaging his religion by calling it 
religion-a. The latter is simply a label we append to the thing to 
help us keep track of it (§ 119). 

390. Certain it is that many religions which are and have been 
the religions of millions and millions of human beings — for instance, 
Indo-European polytheism, the Judao-Christian and Moslem re- 
ligions, fetishism — contain religion-a. But all those religions — with 
the exception, partial at least, of fetishism — contain another thing 
which we may call religion-/? (§119), and which, to use words of 
Father Lagrange, is "a belief in higher beings with whom it is 
possible to establish relations." ^ But now, which is the principal 
element in the things commonly known as religion, religion-a, or 
religion-/^ ? In order to answer, we have to know the exact meaning 
of the term "principal." When we were comparing chemical water 
with river water, by "principal element" we meant the element 
having the greatest weight. Chemical analysis of river-water showed 
that the chemical water contained in it weighed more than all other 
ingredients. But how are we to analyze religions, and how are we to 
weigh the elements in them? 

391. It may be said: "The prmcipal element in religions is the 
belief in higher beings, since it is from that belief that the scruples 

390 ^ Etudes sur les religions semitiqiies, p. 7: "Everybody agrees at least that 
there is no religion apart from belief in higher powers with whom relations may 
be established." But '"everybody" is in no such agreement. "Everybody" includes 
Reinach, and Reinach seems not to agree! But why do those two gentlemen insist 
on giving the same name to different things? Simply because they have an ax to 
grind on the sentiments the name arouses! 


mentioned by Reinach logically emanate." To which the answer 
may be made: "The principal element in religions is the scruples, 
since the fact of their existence provoked in human beings the belief 
in higher powers" — the Romans had two sayings: "If there are 
gods, there is divination," and "If there is divination, there are 
gods."* In the theorems mentioned the word "principal" seems to 
mean "anterior in time." But even though it were demonstrated that 
belief in superior powers came first and scruples afterwards, it would 
by no means follow that at some later time the scruples were not 
the whole thing in religion, or the more active element in it. And 
if it were demonstrated that the scruples antedated the belief, it 
would in no wise follow that at some later date they had not yielded 
first place to belief in higher powers. 

392. If one asks, then, "Are the religion-a and the religion-/^ 
present in all phenomena called religions?", the answer has to be no. 
On the one hand religion-a is more wide-spread than religion-/?. 
In fetishism and tabooism in whole or in part, in modern free- 
thought, in Comte's positivism, in the humanitarian religion, in 
the metaphysical religions, there are scruples but no higher powers 
— at least no such powers are distinctly present. It is true that Comte 
ends by creating fictitious entities, but in theory they remain fictitious 
throughout. That fact merely shows that where there are such 
scruples, there is a propensity to explain them by a resort to higher 

393. On the other hand, there are some few cases where if 
religion-/? is defined strictly as recognition of the existence of higher 
beings, it may be said that religion-/? exists apart from religion-a, or 
at least, without any dependence of the latter on the former. Take, 

391 ^ Cicero, De divinatione , I, 5, 9: "My opinion is that if those sorts of divina- 
tion which we have inherited and practise are true, there must be gods; and that 
vice versa if there are gods, there must be people to know their will" — i.e., there 
must be divination. Idem, De natiira deorum, II, 3, 7: "What else do prophecies 
and presentiments of the future mean except that things that are to be are por- 
tended, 'signed,' predicted to men? That in part is why they are termed 'signs,' 
'portents,' 'prodigies' " — \i.e., prodigiiim from praedicere. — A. L.] 


§394 RELIGION 241 

for example, the religion of the Epicureans.* If we are told that 
we must not consider it because it is a scandalous thing, the reply is 
that we are not investigating the composition of praiseworthy re- 
ligions, but the composition of all beliefs that are or have been 
called religions. And if it were said that the Epicureans too had 
scruples, we should reply that if the term "religion-a" is to be defined 
as broadly as that, then religion-a is everywhere present, for there is 
not and there has never been a human being in the world who does 
not have, or has not had, some scruple or other. In that case the 
term "religion-a" defining everything would define nothing. 

394. There is, again, a sect of Buddhism that shows no trace of 
the second half of the definition of religion-/^ — of relations estab- 
lished with higher beings. In fact that half is explicitly rejected, as 
witness the conversation between Guimet and three Japanese 
theologians: ^ 

"Q. My first question bears on the origin of the heavens, the earth, 
and everything about us. How do you explain their formation, ac- 
cording to the principles of the Buddhist religion? 

"A. The Buddhist religion ascribes the existence of all things to 
what it calls In-En [Cause-Effect]. Each thing is only a combination 
of infinitely minute atoms. Those atoms combine to form moun- 

393 ^Cicero, De natitra deorum, I, 19, 51. Explaining views of Epicurus he says 
of the nature of a god in a passage that is celebrated: "He does nothing. He has 
no worries or preoccupations. No exertion is required of him. He rejoices in his 
knowledge and virtue; and he can look forward to an eternity of infinite beatitude." 
C/. Diogenes Laertius, Epicurus, X, 139 (Hicks, Vol. II, p. 663): "Such a one is 
immortal and blissful. He has no worries of his own, nor does he create them for 
anyone else." 

394 ^ Annales du Mtisee Guimet, Vol. I, pp. 307-44: Notes abregecs stir les rS- 
ponses faites dans le Hioun-Ka\ott . . . par MM. Simatchi, Atsoumi et A^amatsou 
aux questions de M. Emile Guimet: "The Sin-siou sect," says M. Guimet, "is one 
of the strongest, as regards membership, in Japan." Note diat Guimet and others 
call the thing here in question a religion. Anyone accepting the thesis of Father 
Lagrange might deny that such a thing could be called a religion, saying that such 
a name would be an abuse. But if one can get rid of facts contrary to a dieory 
simply by calling them an abuse, it is obvious that no theory will ever fail of verifi- 
cation, and that it is a waste of time to go on investigating. We are here examining 
the peculiarides of things that have been called religions, not the traits of things 
that one writer or another would like to have called by that name. 


tains, rivers, plains, metals, stones, plants, and trees. Such objects 
come into being from the natural relationship of their In and their 
En, exactly as all living beings are born by virtue of their In-En. 

"Q. Is there no creator of the heavens, the earth, and all other 
things ? 

"A. No. 

"Q. What is this thing which you call In-En? 

"A. Nothing is formed naturally and of itself. It is always the re- 
lation of a this to a that that constitutes a thing. . . . 

"Q. . . . I now ask you whether the conduct of human beings 
depends in any way on God. 

"A. A man is responsible for his own conduct. It in no way de- 
pends on God. [No trace so far of any relations with higher beings, 
which, according to Lagrange, everybody recognizes!] 

"Q. Do you not admit that God exerts an influence on humanity 
and guides us in the performance of our various acts of invention 
or improvement ? 

"A. The Buddhist religion admits of no creator. It ascribes every- 
thing to the In-En. It thereby declares that every human act is per- 
formed on the individual's initiative without any interference on the 
part of God. 

"Q. It is evident that the term God is not the proper one. Never- 
theless your religion does recognize a higher being, Amida, which 
it venerates and devoutly worships. Well, does not the power of 
Amida have some influence on human conduct? 

"A. The differences prevailing among individual human beings, 
as regards their personal value and the value of what they do, de- 
pend more or less on the education they have received, and not at 
all on the will of Amida. . . . 

"Q. I would readily admit that knowledge may be increased by 
effort . . . but, at the same time, in the domain of ethics, in the 
distinction between right and wrong, between what is just and what 
is unjust, does it not seem that there must be a higher being who 
rewards or punishes us for our conduct, much as the social authority 
punishes us for infractions of the rules of public" order ? 


"A. Every good and every evil act has as its consequence a blessing 
or a sorrow^. That results from the altogether natural conception of 
the In-Goua [synonym of In-En]." 

395. Farther along: "A. In Buddhism at large, one often hears of 
prayers to the divinity that have been answered. Our sect absolutely 
forbids such prayers." If we choose to regard the two parts of the 
definition of religion-/^ as forming an inseparable unit — that is, the 
belief in higher beings plus the belief that it is possible to establish 
relations with them — we should have to conclude that religion-/!^ is 
not present in the two religions just mentioned; and we would 
hardly know where to place them, for they do not fall, either, under 
the definition of religion-a. 

396. We can only conclude, therefore, that as usual the terms of 
ordinary language do not lend themselves to rigorous classifications. 
Chemistry, physics, mechanics, and the other natural sciences were 
never built up by studying and classifying the terms of ordinary 
language, but by studying and classifying facts. Let us try to do the 
same for sociology. 

397. Meanwhile, and still by way of induction, we discover that 
the definitions of Reinach and Lagrange are of a different character. 
Their authors may not have been aware of it, but they aim at 
classifying quite different orders of facts : Reinach's, certain states of 
mind ; Lagrange's, the explanations that are given of them*. Can it be 
that those two orders of facts are in general profitably to be dis- 
tinguished, classified, examined? We shall see. Here at any rate 
there is a substantial difference, not a mere difference in the forms 
of ordinary parlance. For the moment let us go on with the inquiry 
in hand. 

398. The difficulties encountered in efforts to define the terms 
"law" and "morality" have proved quite as serious as was the case 
with the term "religion." No way has yet been found even to dis- 
tinguish law from morality. At one extreme we get a definition that 
is grossly empirical. We are told that law consists of a body of 
norms that are sanctioned by a public authority, and that morality 
consists of a body of norms imposed only by conscience. Such a 


definition is satisfactory enough for the practical purposes of lawyer 
and judge; but it does not have the slightest scientific value, since 
it assumes for criteria elements that are secondary and changeable — 
it is like classifying birds by the colours of their feathers. An action 
passes from law to morality or from morality to law according to 
the will or caprice of the legislator. The classification therefore may 
register such will or caprice, but not, as our purpose was, the intrinsic 
character of the act. Moreover, such a classification becomes useless 
when, as was the case in epochs remotely past, no public authority 
interferes to proclaim or enforce private law. Modern civilized 
countries have written codes, and it is an easy matter to determine 
whether a given act is or is not regulated by law. The definition in 
question is experimental, clear, exact; but that does not help very 
much, since it fails to classify the things which we were trying to 

399. If, furthermore, we try to consider things intrinsically, we 
are brought to considering "essences," and are so lured gradually 
away from the experimental field to go wandering about among 
the clouds of metaphysics, eventually arriving at the other extreme, 
where all objective reality goes by the board. 

400. There are some who are candid enough to admit as much. 
Adolf Franck says:^ "The idea of law, considered in itself, inde- 
pendently of the applications of which it is susceptible, and of the 
laws more or less just that have been made in its name, is a simple, 
absolute idea of reason and is therefore beyond any logical defini- 
tion." At last! That unequivocally recognizes the fact that the con- 

^ cept of law belongs to a category within the domain of non-logical 

X'-'^'r^ conduct; and unless some other theory, some theory of innate ideas, 

, comes to our rescue, we have to admit that such a concept varies 

^ ^ ^ j. according to times, places, and individuals. To deny that, we should 

have to attribute an objective existence to "simple ideas" — the kind 

of existence once enjoyed by the gods of Olympus.^ 

400 ^ Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiqites, s.v. "Droit." 

400 - Others try to hide the conflict with reality under ingenious subtleties, the 
way people ordinarily do in trying to logicalize non-logical conduct. With that mat- 
ter we have already dealt in Chapter III. 


401. Theories of "natural law" and the "law of nations" are an- 
other excellent example of discussions destitute of all exactness. 
Many thinkers have more or less vaguely expressed their sentiments 
under those terms, and have then exerted themselves to link their 
sentiments with practical ends that they desired to attain. As usual, 
they have derived great advantage in such efforts from using in- 
definite words that correspond not to things, but only to sentiments. 
We are now going to examine such manners of reasoning for such 
correspondence as they may (or may not) have with experimental 
reality. But the conclusions we reach must not be carried over into 
any other field (§41). The question of their experimental validity is 
independent of any question of their social utility; and a theory may 
be as beneficial as one could wish under certain circumstances and in 
this or that period of history without having any bearing at all on 
experimental realities. "Natural law" is simply that law of which 
the person using the phrase approves; but the cards cannot be in- 
genuously laid on the table in any such terms; it is wiser to put the 
thing a little less bluntly, supplement it by more or less argument. 

402. The objections that might be raised against any assertion of 
natural law are met in the following way: "Why must I subscribe to 
your opinion?" "Because it is in accord with reason." "But I am 
using reason too, and my idea is different from yours." "Yes, but 
my reason is right reason" (§§ 422 f.). "How comes it that you who 
are blessed with this right reason are so few?" "We are not so few: 
our opinion enjoys universal consensus." "And yet there are some 
who think differently." "I should have said the consensus of the 
good and the wise." "Very well ! It was you then, the good and the 
wise, who invented this natural law?" "No, we got it from Nature, 
from God." 

403. The resources on which defenders of natural law rely are 
chiefly: right reason; nature, with its appendages, rational nature, 
state of nature, conformity with nature, sociability, and the like; the 
consensus of all mankind, or of some essential part of mankind ; the 
divine will. 

404. Two questions especially are envisaged: (i) the authorship of 


natural law, and (2) the manner of its revelation.^ God may be the 
author of natural law either directly, or else indirectly by means of 
Right Reason or of Nature, His servants. Nature may be the author 
of natural law either directly or, preferably, indirectly, by having 
engraved on the human mind a picture of natural law (or merely 
of law), which is forthwith discovered by right reason, or else by 
observing either general opinion or the opinion of the best-qualified 
individuals. It is possible also to speculate as to what humanity 
would be like in a "state of nature," a state that, to tell the truth, no 
one has ever seen, but with which metaphysicists are so well 
acquainted that from that state (so well known to them, to other 
people entirely unknown) they derive their knowledge of things 
which the rest of us have before our very eyes and might therefore 
know directly. Finally, Right Reason can command observance of 
natural law on its own unsupported authority. 

405. Natural law may be revealed to us directly by God through 
writings inspired by Him — but that is a very rare case. Direct ob- 
servation of the consensus of mankind, or of a part of mankind, 
might also reveal natural law directly; but that method, in point 
of fact, is seldom if ever followed. Really the function of revealing 
natural law belongs properly to Right Reason, either as its own 
production, or as deriving from Nature, or from God; or from 
universal consensus or some more limited consensus. 

406. It is quite generally asserted, in substance, that the concept 
of natural law is inherent in the human mind. Some indication as to 
the source of the concept is often added, with further support of the 
consensus of all mankind, or of the best-qualified individuals. Ordi- 
narily, almost all such weapons are used at the same time, because 
it is better to appeal to the greatest possible number of sentiments; 
and the various manners of revelation are themselves declared to 
be in accord with one another, again for the same reason. 

407. The subjective argument by accord of sentiments seems to 
be as follows: It is perceived that existing laws are not an arbitrary, 

404 ^ We encounter here, in a particular case, general methods of logicalization 
that we shall treat in Chapters IX and X. 


nor even an entirely logical, creation — that they contain a sub- 
stratum not due to any volition but subsisting by itself. That in- 
duction is in accord with the facts, and it ought to be stated in this 
form: "There are certain principles of non-logical conduct from 
which human beings deduce their laws. Such principles of non- 
logical conduct (or 'residues,' Chapter VI) are correlated with the 
conditions under which human beings live, and change with those 

408. But in that form, which emphasizes the relative, subjective, 
non-logical character of the principles, the argument is repulsive to 
metaphysicists and theologians, and even to a large number of mere 
students of social matters. What they want is something absolute, 
objective, logical, and they invariably find it by using indeterminate 
words and defective reasonings ("derivations," Chapter IX). In the 
case in hand, the absolute and objective is sought in the consensus 
of the many or the all, in conformity with Nature, in divine will. 
Of all those things, or of some of them, they have most favourable 
opinions. They must therefore be in accord with that other thing, 
natural law, of which they have an equally high opinion : and logic 
must supply us with the nexus that brings the two excellences to- 
gether (§514). In such theories, ever peeping out from under the 
various disguises, is the notion of a contrast between something that 
is constant and good ("natural" law) and something else that is 
variable and not so good ("positive" law); and that contrast is 
chiefly responsible for their conviction, and the conviction of those 
who agree with them (§ 515). 

409. Whether the one or the other of these procedures occupies 
the forefront is altogether a matter of individual preference. Chris- 
tians, of course, cannot do without God; but it is interesting that 
they make His interposition not so much direct as indirect. That 
may be because the metaphysicist overbalances the Christian in them. 
But pure metaphysicists are satisfied with Right Reason. 

410. Aristotle finds it characteristic of natural law that it has the 
same force everywhere. That does not mean that it is always the 


same in every place, since there may be natural variations.^ He uses 
that reservation to answer the denial of natural law on the ground 
of variations in the law of nations. In the Rhetoric, I, 13, 2 (Freese, 
p. 139), he expresses himself thus: "I say that law is peculiar or com- 
mon {Ihiov xal xoLvov). That law is peculiar which some ordain 
for themselves, and it may be written or unwritten. Common is 
that law which is in accord with Nature, since there is a just and 
an unjust by nature, which all people divine, though neither com- 
munication nor understanding exist between them." ^ Such really 
would be principles of non-logical actions, which are common to 
human beings everywhere, varying according to the conditions 
under which they live. Aristotle's theory would seem, therefore, to 
give first place to Nature. Universal consensus would be the means 
by which that origin according to Nature manifests itself. 

411. Just how the things that have the same force everywhere are 
to be distinguished from those which do not is hard to imagine. 
Aristotle thinks he can show how, and he gives the example [Ethica 
Nicomachea, V, 7, 2 (Rackham, p. 295) ] of a law prescribing that 
a goat and not a sheep should be sacrificed to Zeus. In fact, at first 
sight, it would seem evident that such a law must be arbitrary; but 
a slight modification in terms is enough to endow the prescription 
with the trait of pseudo-universality required by natural law. We 
need only say: "In every locality local customs must be observed. 
In our country it is customary to sacrifice a goat, and not a sheep; 
hence a goat must be sacrificed." 

412. In one and the same treatise Cicero sways back and forth be- 
tween the various demonstrations, so betraying the fact that it is not 

410 ^Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea, V, 7, 1-4 (Rackham, p. 295): "Of political 
law a part is natural, a part legislative. That law is natural which everywhere has 
the same force and does not depend on opinion." Idem, Magna moralia, I, 33, 19 
(Stock, p. 1194b, 1. 30): "Some just things are so by nature, some by legislation." 
He goes on to say that natural things too can change; and he gives as an example 
the fact that one could use the right hand and the left hand indifferently, but that 
that would not preclude our still having a right hand and a left hand. Then he 
adds: ". . . the law that endures is most often just according to nature." And then: 
"Justice according to nature is therefore better than jusdce according to law." 

410 2 He says further, I, 10, 3 (Freese, pp. 105-07) : "I call . . . that [law] com- 
mon which, though not written, seems to be recognized by all." 

§414 NATURAL law: CICERO 249 

the conclusions that follow from the demonstration, but that the 
demonstration is selected for the purpose of obtaining the con- 
clusions. In his essay On Laws, De le gibus, I, 6, 20, he says: "I will 
seek the origin of law in Nature {repetam stir pern iuris a Naturd)y 
who must be our guide in this whole matter," Here the appeal 
is to Nature directly; but a few lines above, I, 6, 18-19, she was 
brought in indirectly, and first place was given to a Supreme 
Reason, and Cicero continues: "Law is Supreme Reason implanted 
in Nature {lex est ratio summa insita in Natura), who bids us do 
the things we ought to do and forbids us their contraries. When 
this reason has been established and elaborated, (confirmata et 
cofifecta) in the minds of men, it becomes law. ... If that is 
well said — and I am of opinion that on the whole it is — right has 
its origin in law; for law is the force of Nature; it is the mind 
and the reason of the wise man, and the measure of what is just 
and what is unjust." 

413. In this enumeration of highly estimable things divinity was 
missing — but not for long; II, 4, 8: "I observe that it has been the 
opinion of the wisest that law is not devised by human intelligence 
nor is it the decree of peoples, but something eternal that governs 
the whole world with the wisdom of its prescriptions and interdic- 
tions. Wherefore it has been said that law is the primal and ulti- 
mate mind of God, who prescribes and prohibits in all matters 
through reason. Rightly to be praised therefore is a law that the gods 
have bestowed upon the human race: for it is the reason and the 
thought [mind] of a wise being qualified both to command and to 

414. Elsewhere, I, 7, 23, right reason is said to be the law; and 
since right reason is common to gods and men, the latter stand in 
partnership with the gods — no more, no less : "Since nothing is bet- 
ter than reason and since it exists both in man and in God, a first 
partnership of reason exists between man? and God. But those who 
have reason in common have also right reason in common, and 
since right reason is the law (quae cum sit lex) we must consider 


ourselves as brought through the law into partnership with the 

415. Then we are back with Nature again, II, 5, 13: "Law, then, 
is the distinction between what is just and what is unjust, modelled 
on that most ancient Nature, the beginning of all things." That 
blessed Nature is like an elastic band: it can be stretched to any 
length required, I, 8, 25: "Virtue is nothing but Nature perfect in 
itself and carried to its limit." 

416. One cannot read all that without seeing that Cicero has a 
clear conception of a law that is not conventional. It comes out when 
he says, I, 10, 28, that "not by opinion, but by Nature was law con- 
stituted {Neque opinione sed Natura constitutum esse ius)^ But 
then his ideas as to the origin and nature of such a law grow con- 
fused. He goes groping about to find every perfection he can think 
of to piece together with the high conception he has of law. 

417. Little or no progress has been made since Cicero's time; and 
writers on natural law continue to make all possible combinations 
of the same concepts; save that the God of the Christians replaces 
the pagan gods, a scientific varnish is applied, and a pseudo-science 
is invited to reveal just what Milady Nature would have us do. 

418. Roman jurists often put their theories under the protection 
of a certain natural law {ius naturae, naturale) common to all men 
and even to animals. They have been defended in that on the 
ground that human beings and animals have in fact certain mental 
traits in common. But it is not in the least with such traits that we 
are concerned; nor do they in any sense assume any authority as 
principles of law such as the champions of natural law envisage. 
So, in the very same fashion, from the fact that certain good or 
bad traits in a parent affect the character of his progeny, people 
have tried to conclude that it was "just" that the children should 
be punished for the sins of their fathers (§§ 1979 f.). Such reasoning 
involves a confusion between a state of fact and a state of "right," 
between what happens and what one should try to have happen. 
It is one thing to say, "The progeny of a syphilitic parent have cer- 
tain diseases," and quite another thing to say, "The syphilitic father 


should be punished in his child, by inoculating the latter with 
diseases he does not have." 

So also the term "solidarity" has been given to correlations be- 
tween animals and human beings, or between human beings, with 
an inference from that fact of something altogether different — a 
certain "obligation" or "law" of solidarity (§§449-450). 

419. In the proemium of the Institutes of Justinian, I, 2 {Corpus 
juris civilis, Vol. I, p. 3; Scott, Vol. II, p. 5), we are told: "Natural 
law is that which Nature imparts to all animate creatures; for this 
law is not peculiar to mankind, but is shared by all animals that live 
in the air, on the earth, and in the sea. Hence comes the union of 
male and female that we call matrimony, the procreation and edu- 
cation of offspring. We see, in fact, that the animals have knowledge 
of this law." If we strip off the trappings of sentiment which dis- 
guise this passage it becomes frankly comical. The compilers of the 
Institutes are not content with saying "all animals"; they hammer on 
the point, so that every doubt may be dispelled and their period 
turn out more rhythmical : it is a question, no more, no less, of "all 
animals that live in the air, on the earth, and in the sea." So we 
get a natural law of earthworms, fleas, lice, flies, and in our day we 
might add, of infusoria. And not only does this pretty law exist; 
the animals know it — a thing, in truth, marvellous beyond words! 

420. And in proof — the institution of matrimony is brought for- 
ward ! Among certain species of spiders the male seizes the moment 
in which the female is not looking to rush upon her and copulate. 
He then flees as fast as his legs can carry him because the female 
will devour him if she gets her claws on him. Strange indeed how 
these animals \nou/ the natural law of matrimony — and use it! 

421. To make law accord with the facts, the compilers of the 
Institutes use a method that is a very common resort : they introduce 
sly alterations in the meanings of terms. They say {Corpus iuris 
civilis, Vol. I, p. 3; Scott, Vol. II, p. 5) : "Hinc descendit maris atque 
jeminae coniugatio (variant, coniunctio), quam nos matrimonium 
appellamus." ("Hence comes the union of male and female that we 
call matrimony.") But this they contradict later on when they say, 


I, 10, 12 {Corpus, Vol. I, p. 6; Scott, Vol. II, p. 15): "Si adversus ea 
quae diximus aliqui coierint, nee vir, nee uxor, nee nuptiae, nee 
matrlmonium , nee dos intelligitur!' ("If some unite in ways dif- 
ferent from those specified, they cannot be known as husband and 
wife, nor is there either wedlock or marriage or dowry.") In one 
place they say that simple copulation, as in the case of animals, is 
what they mean by matrimonium. In the other place they withhold 
that name from unions which do not have certain other traits. Of 
the two contradictory propositions, one has to be eliminated — and 
better the first, since it is certain that in the language of law matri- 
monium is something more than simple copulation. 

422. The law of nations iius gentium^ is declared to be imposed 
by natural reason {iiaturalis ratio). This natural reason is a beautiful 
creature to whom one may resort in distressing predicaments and 
use to demonstrate many fine things. It is also called right reason 
{o^dbc, /lo/o$), true reason, just, honest reason, and the like. It is not 
explained how the reason worthy of these exalted epithets is to be 
distinguished from the reason which has to go without them. But 
at bottom the former is always the one that meets the approval of 
the writer who bestows the laudatory epithet. 

423. A person whom we shall call Primus observes that A = B. 
A person whom we shall call Secundus denies it. Primus thinks he 
proves his assertion when he says that A = B because right reason 
will have it so. But why is the reason of Primus "right" reason, while 
the reason of Secundus is not ? Who is to pass judgment in the dis- 
pute.? If now a Tertius comes forward and says that to his mind 
the reason of Primus is right reason, that only proves that on the 
subject in hand Primus and Tertius happen to think alike; and what 
has that got to do with the other fact that A = B? If not only 
Tertius, but several individuals, many individuals — all men — agree 
with Primus, that fact continues to have no bearing on the objective 
proposition that A = B, except for people who take such consensus 
as proof of the theorem. But if we are going to reason in that fashion, 
it would be as well, and in fact much better, to bring on the consen- 


sus in the first place, without dragging in right reason for the pleas- 
ure of chasing it away again! All that, of course, from the logico- 
experimental point of view. As an appeal to sentiment the intro- 
duction of right reason is a very helpful thing; for it enables one to 
insinuate that the person who does not accept the demonstration 
is somehow a poor sort of person. The procedure is general, and we 
shall return to it hereafter (§§ 480 f.). 

424. At a later period we come upon an elect company of jurists 
who formulated the theory of natural law and the law of nations, 
and who are greatly admired by people who are so fortunate as to 
understand them: Grotius, Selden, Pufendorf, Burlamaqui, Vattel, 
and so on.^ 

425. Grotius says that "natural law is made up of certain prin- 
ciples of right reason which teach us that an action is morally proper 
or improper according as it is in accord or disaccord with a rational 
and sociable Nature, and that, consequently, God, who is the creator 
of Nature, commands or prohibits such actions." ^ 

424 ^ Lack of space prevents us from examining all their definitions here; but 
that is no great loss, for they are all more or less alike and all equally hazy. 

425 '^ De jure belli ac pads, I, 10, i (Pareto used Barbeyrac's French translation): 
"Four commencer par le Droit Naturel, il consiste dans certains principes de la 
Droite Raison, qui nous font connoitre qu'une Action est moralement honnete ou 
deshonnete selon la convenance on la disconvenance necessaire qu'clle a avec une 
'Nature Raisonnable et Sociable; et par consequent que Dieti, qui est I'Auteur de la 
Nature, ordonne ou defend une telle action." The Latin original reads: "lus nat- 
urale est dictatum rectae rationis indicans actui alicui ex ejus convenentia aut dis- 
convenentia cum ipsa natura rationali inesse moralem turpitudinem aut necessitatem 
moralem, ac consequenter ab auctore naturae Deo talent actum aut vetari aut 
praecipi." (See Campbell, p. 21.) Grotius goes on to observe, § 2, that "the actions 
in regard to which Nature supplies such principles are obligatory or illicit 
in themselves, so that they are conceived as necessarily ordained or forbid- 
den by God" — and that is what distinguishes it from human law. Notice- 
able here, as usual, is a perception that there is in law a something that is not 
arbitrary; and that something is "necessarily" connected with God, Nature, Right 
Reason, and other similar endues. Notes by Barbeyrac to French translation: "Gro- 
tius wrote: 'morally necessary,' but the term I use, 'morally proper,' is clearer and 
the contrast is more exact. I write 'reasonable and sociable nature,' following the 
author's regular formula, as witness § 12, No. i; II, § 12, No. 3; III, § i. No. 3. 
The copyist, or the printer, would seem to have overleapt the two words widiout 
the author's noticing, as has happened in other passages." 


Pufendorf comments that that is reasoning in a circle, because 
natural laws are defined as what is proper and then to learn what is 
proper we have to resort to natural laws." But Burlamaqui washes 
Grotius clean of any such blemish: "I cannot see any circle there; 
for the question as to the source of the natural rectitude or turpitude 
of proscribed or forbidden actions Grotius does not answer in the 
manner represented. He would say that the rectitude or turpitude 
arises from the necessary harmony {convenance) or discord {dis- 
convenance) of our actions with a rational and sociable nature." ^ 
That is the usual method of defining one unknown by another un- 
known. From natural laws we are remanded to "rectitude," from 
rectitude to harmony; to say nothing of a certain "rational" nature 
which is not clearly distinguishable from a nature that is not such. 

426. All the same, let us do the best we can. We have been re- 
ferred to a "harmony"; let us see if we can discover what on earth 
it may be. Burlamaqui, Ibid.y II, 7, 2, gives us a lead: "As for the 
harmony finally, it is something approximate to order itself. It is a 
relation of conformity among several things, the one of which is in 
itself essential to the conservation and perfection of the other, and 
does its share in maintaining it in a good and advantageous state." 
It would seem, then, that the "rectitude" in question is something 
that stands in the relation indicated to a "rational and sociable 
nature." But our unknowns, far from getting fewer, are increasing 
in number. In addition to discovering what "rational nature" is, we 
now have to learn the meaning that the author gives to the words 
"conservation," "perfection," "good and advantageous state." 

427. All this twisting and turning amounts in the end to saying 
that "natural law" is a phrase that arouses in the mind of the author 
an atmosphere similar to the atmosphere aroused by the words 
"rational nature," "conservation," "perfection," "good and advanta- 
geous state" — all of which are essentially undefinable. Why, then, 

425 ^ De iiire naturae et geiitiiim, I, i, 10 [Wrong reference. Pufendorf regarded 
I, 2, 6, as his basic comment on Grotius: Frankfurt, pp. 27-29; Kennett, pp. 18-20; 
Barbeyrac, Vol. I, p. 30. — A. L.] 

425 ^ Pmicipes du droit natitrel, Pt. II, Chap. 5, Sec. 6. 


instead of going so far afield, does not the author say it that way 
and have done with it ? ^ 

428. For Pufendorf "natural law is that law which is so invari- 
ably in accord with the rational and sociable nature of man that 
unless its norms were observed an honest and peaceful society could 
not exist among men." ^ He would seem here to be depending on 
experience alone; and if he continued along that line, natural law 
would simply be a law that governs societies in such a way that 
they are able to survive. But unfortunately experience shows that 
many are the societies which subsist, and each with a different set of 
laws; so we cannot know which of the latter is the natural law except 
by determining what they have in common — and that takes us into 
another field.^ 

427 ^ Here induction leads us to consider a general phenomenon with which we 
shall deal at length in Chapter IX. For the present let us continue examining the 
relations of these theories to experimental facts. 

428 ^ De officio hominis et civis, I, 2, 16 (Oxford, Vol. I, p. 18; Vol. II, p. 16): 
"Ilia est quae cum rationah ac sociali natura hominis ita congruit ut humano generi 
honesta et pactfica societas citra eandem constare nequeat." 

428 2 Burlamaqui, Elements du droit naturel, Pt. Ill, Chap. 13, Sec. i: "As re- 
gards natural law, the proofs based on the consensus and practices of the nations or 
on the sentiments of philosophers are not adequate for establishing that this or that 
thing is part of natural law. The extent to which even the wisest and most en- 
lightened nations have gone astray on the most important matters is only too well 
known." Pufendorf also rejects the evidence of universal consensus. Pufendorf-Bar- 
beyrac, he droit de la nature et des gens, II, 3, 7 (Vol. I, p. 179; De iure, Frank- 
furt, p. 179; Kennett, pp. 124-25): "Others take for the basis of natural law the con- 
sent of all mankind, or of all nations, or of most nations, or of the more civilized 
nations, to recognize certain things as proper or improper. But for one thing, that 
is only, as the phrase goes, an a posteriori proof [In other words, an experimental 
proof, and therefore repugnant to every good metaphysicist.] and fails altogether to 
explain why this or that thing is prescribed or prohibited by natural law. Then 
again it is not a very sure method and is fraught with countless difficulties; for if 
one appeals to mankind as a whole, two annoying embarrassments arise, as Hobbes 
well shows, De cive, II, § i. In the first place, on that assumption it does not appear 
that any human being actually using his reason could ever sin against natural law; 
for the moment one individual belonging to the human race embraces an opinion 
differing from the general, the consensus of mankind is impaired. In the second 
place, it seems manifestly absurd to take as the basis of natural laws the consent of 
those who break them more often than they observe them." Pufendorf defines nat- 
ural law, De iure naturae et gentium, I, 6, 18 (Frankfurt, p. 109, Barbeyrac, Vol. I, 
p. 113; Kennett, p. 76), as "a law standing in such a necessary relationship to 
the reasonable and sociable nature of man that without observance of it no honest 


429. But Pufendorf does not understand the matter in that way, 
really. He dismisses experience without further delay, adding that 
the law in question can be discovered with the sole aid of natural 
reason, by mere contemplation of human nature in general. Know 
ye, therefore, that^ "to discover entirely and convincingly the dis- 
tinguishing trait of natural law ... it is sufficient to examine at- 
tentively the nature and inclinations of man in general." And so, with 
this blessed Nature, we are thrown back once more into full meta- 
physics, to land at a place where the "fundamental principle of 
natural law" dwells, the law that" "each individual should do his 
utmost to further the welfare of human society in general." That 
does not help us very much, for we now have to quarrel as to 
the character of that welfare. One person will say, "The welfare of 
society lies in an aristocratic system"; another will retort, "The wel- 
fare of society lies in a democratic system." And how are we going 
to settle the dispute on the principles of natural law? Pufendorf 
adds that "natural law has God for its author" — and that, in truth, 
must be the case! ^ 

430. Burlamaqui departs but slightly from Pufendorf. He says:^ 
"By natural law is meant a law that God lays down for all men and 
which they can discover and know by the unaided light of their 
reason, considering attentively their nature and their state." Here 
there is no trace of the animals that made up such a fascinating 
menagerie in the Institutes of Justinian.^ But a new entity has come 

and peaceful society could exist in the human race. Or if one wish, it is a law that 
has, so to say, a natural goodness [The usual vagueness. Metaphysicists simply can- 
not hit on a notion that is exact.], in other words, an inner capacity of its own for 
procuring the welfare of mankind. The law is called natural because it can be known 
through the natural lights of reason, and by the contemplation of human nature 
in the large." 

429 ^ De officio hominis et civis, I, 3, i (Oxford, Vol. I, p. 18; Vol. II, p. 17). 

429 ^ Ibid., I, 3, 9 (Oxford, Vol. I, p. 21; Vol. II, p. 19). 

429 ^ Ibid., I, 3, II (Oxford, Vol. I, p. 22; Vol. II, p. 19): ". . . esse autem Deum 
legis naturalis autorem." 

430 ^ Principes du droit natiirel, Pt. II, Chap, i. Sec. 2. 

430 ^ Cruel to the poor animals, Pufendorf absolutely will not let them have a 
natural law in common with man, De iitre 7Taturae et gentium, II, 3, 3 (Frankfurt, 
p. 172; Barbeyrac, Vol. I, p. 171; Kennett, p. 119): "There have been people, 
apparently more minded to display their brilliancy than to sustain their thesis in 


on the scene — God ; though we are not told whether He be the God 
of the Christians, the God of the Moslems, or some other God. God 
has made a natural law common to all men, who, however, do 
not have the same God! It all sounds like a puzzle. 

431. In Burlamaqui's proposition there are two definitions and a 
thesis. Natural law is twice defined, first as given by God, second as 
known through reason. The thesis lies in the assertion that the two 
definitions are in accord. It is not very clear how people who have 
different Gods, and especially atheists who have no God at all, can 
all agree. As for the conclusions reached by "attentively" considering 
the nature and estate of mankind, those are merely things that the 
author finds in accord with his own sentiments; and of course if 
anyone fails to reach Burlamaqui's conclusions, he must accuse him- 
self of not having considered the nature and estate of men with 
sufficient attention. But if this person should persevere in his stand 
and assert that despite his "attentive" consideration of the nature 
and estate of man he arrives at different conclusions, on what basis 
could one decide which of the conclusions ought to be accepted 
(§§ 16 f.)? In a "consideration" of "nature" one can find anything 
one chooses. The author of the Problems (attributed to Aristotle) 
discovers in nature the reason why man of all animate creatures 
should be the one to have, in proportion to size of body, the shortest 
distance between the eyes, and he asks: "Can it perhaps be because 
more than others he is according to nature?"^ 

The "experience" of believers in natural law is on a par with our 

earnest, who have marshalled from all hands any evidence tending to establish 
such an alleged law common to human beings and animals. Scholars, however, 
have long since rejected all the arguments put forward on that score. I might men- 
tion briefly here such as are derived from Holy Writ." And he proceeds to argue 
at length that the penalties laid on animals in the Bible involve no presupposition 
of a law of animals. 

431 ^ Problemata, X, 15 (Forster, p. 892a) : "H Sidri iialiara Kara (pvaiv sx^t tuv 
dP.Awv. The writer continues: "It is the nature of sensation that it takes place in 
front; since, in motion, it is necessary to see objects in advance. The greater the 
distance between the eyes, the more is the gaze cast sidewise. So, to conform with 
nature, the distance must be the shortest possible, since in that way one can the 
better walk straight ahead." O blessed Nature, what wondrous revelations dost thou 
not vouchsafe us! 


modern "Christian experience." In neither case is there anything that 
resembles the experience of the natural sciences; and the term "ex- 
perience" serves only to dissemble the fact that the person who uses 
it is merely expressing his own feeling and the feeling of people 
who happen to share his views (§ 602). 

432. In the Preface to his treatise De officio hotninis et civis 
Pufendorf epitomizes his ideas, saying that there are three distinct 
sciences:^ "Natural Law common to all men; Civil Law, which is 
or may be different in different countries; and Moral Theology. 
. . . Natural Law prescribes this thing or that because Right Reason 
compels us to judge it necessary for the preservation of human 
society in general." Take it for granted that the reason which fails 
to prescribe as our author wishes is not right reason; but we cannot 
know that it is not until we have a clear and exact definition of what 
it is. 

433. Such a definition Barbeyrac, adapting Pufendorf, tries to 
give:^ "From that it becomes apparent how we must judge of the 
rightness of reason in our inquiries into the foundations of Natural 
Law; in other words, how we are to recognize that a maxim is in 
conformity with or contrary to Right Reason. For the maxims of 
Right Reason are true principles, principles, that is, which accord 
with the nature of things as we know that nature after careful exami- 
nation, or which are accurately deduced from some first principle 
true in itself. Those, on the contrary, are maxims of corrupt reason 
\pravae raUonis\ which are founded on false principles, or which 
are faultily deduced from principles true in themselves." 

434. Underneath all this pretentious verbiage it is not difficult to 
recognize a principle dear to metaphysicists, whereby experimental 
truths may be discovered through introspection into the "human 
mind" (§493). So right reason must necessarily be in accord with 
experience, or with Nature, as these gentlemen say. 

435. Pufendorf continues, II, 3, 14: "If, then, what is represented 

432 ^Oxford, Vol. I, pp. [2]-[3]; Vol. II, pp. viii-ix. 

433 ^ Pufendorf-Barbeyrac, Le droit de la nature et des gens, II, 3, 13 (Vol. I, p. 
190; Frankfurt, p. 192; Kennett, pp. 133-34). 


as a maxim of Natural Law is really founded on the nature of things, 
one may safely regard it as a true principle and consequently as a 
principle of Right Reason ; for the nature of things reveals to us only 
that which really exists." ^ If he were following the experimental 
method he would invert his terms and say, "What really exists re- 
veals the nature of things." But following the metaphysical method, 
he tries to learn what really exists not from the observation of facts, 
but from "principles in accord with the nature of things." Of this 
accord Right Reason remains judge. Hence we go round and round 
in a circle: to know right reason we are referred to the nature of 
things, and to know the nature of things we are referred back to 
right reason. 

436. Reasoning in that convenient fashion, the author can con- 
vince us of anything he chooses; and so it is that, without much 
trouble (according to him), one comes upon the discovery that the 
basis of natural law is sociability (sociality).^ Sociability always 

435 ^ Barbeyrac notes in his French translation {loc. cit.; Kennett, loc. cit.) : 
"This sentence did not appear in the first edition. Since it did not fit in very well 
with the context I have altered connexions slightly but without in any respect de- 
parting from the author's meaning." He then executes the usual manoeuvre for 
crippling his adversaries by barring them from the list of individuals competent 
to judge of the issues in question: "The assumption here always is that one's ad- 
versaries are not Pyrrhonians [sceptics] or persons disposed to attach little im- 
portance to the true or the false; otherwise it would be useless to try to enlighten 
them." From the experimental standpoint an argument that will allow objections 
only from people who accept it is no argument. From the sentimental standpoint 
an argument by accord of sentiment can be accepted only by people who already 
enteitain the sentiment, at least partially. Barbeyrac continues: "There has always 
been the question as to whether the just were just by nature and not by fiat of some 
arbitrary will — ^I'o-e^, ov deaet : in other words, as the result of essential re- 
lationships between our conduct and its objects or the nature of things." The 
dilemma exists only for metaphysicists. Experimental science offers a third solution: 
It holds that the word "just" merely expresses certain sentiments, and is therefore 
not a little vague, as are the sentiments themselves. 

436 ^ Pufendorf, De iiire naturae et gentium, II, 3, 15 (Frankfurt, p. 197; Bar- 
beyrac, Vol. I, p. 194; Kennett, pp. 136-37): "We shall have no great difficulty in 
discovering the true foundation of natural law. . . . Every individual is prompted 
to cooperate to the full measure of his capacities with other individuals, in the for- 
mation and maintenance of an orderly society in conformity with the constitution 
and purposes of all humanity without exception. [That will be Kant's "universal 
law."] And since anyone requiring a certain purpose also requires the means essen- 
tial for achieving it, it follows that anything necessarily contributing to universal 


figures in these systems, either overtly or in disguise, because they 
are designed to induce people not to injure but rather to help one 
another; and they therefore need the support of the sentiments, so 
called, of socialibity (sociality). 

437. Burlamaqui throws still other sentiments into the fray, 
rightly judging that the greater the array of the favourable senti- 
ments he can muster, the better off he is. When he is addressing 
Christians, he w^ants to have their religion on his side. Egoists he tries 
to convince that altruism is a good policy for egoists (§§ 1479 f.). 
With the result that he gets three principles for his natural laws:^ 
"Religion, self-love, and sociability, or goodwill to other men." 

438. The inadequacy of the definitions of metaphysical entities 
that writers use in the study of natural law in many cases does not 
escape them; and each exerts himself — with little success, alas! — to 
find better ones. 

439. Burlamaqui protests that he is trying to follow the experi- 
mental method and says:^ "People often speak of the useful, the 
just, the honest, of order, of propriety {convenance), but most often 
these different notions are not defined with exactness. . . . This 
lack of precision cannot fail to leave a certain amount of confusion 
and embarrassment in a discussion. If we are trying to get light, 
we must distinguish carefully, and define sharply. [Excellent! We 
are now all ears for a few clear and exact definitions!] A useful 
action is one that tends of itself to the conservation and perfection of 
man." Note the ambiguity in the impersonal "man." Had Burla- 
maqui said "of a man," we could say that what tends to the conserva- 
tion and perfection of a thief is to know how to pick a pocket 
dextrously. But that cannot be said of man in general. It has still to 
be shown that what is advantageous for man in general is also ad- 
vantageous for man in particular, since it is always to a particular 
person that the argument is addressed. But the author does not 
bother with that detail! 

sociability must be regarded as prescribed by natural law, and anything disturbing 
to such sociability as prohibited by natural law." 

437 ^ Principes du droit natitrcl, Pt. II, Chap. 4, Sec. 18. 

439 1 Ibid., Pt. II, Chap. 7, Sec. 2. 


An action is said to be honest when it is considered as "conform- 
ing with the principles of right reason [How is right reason to be 
distinguished from the reason that is not right?], with the dignity 
of human nature [What is tliis new entity?], deserving therefore of 
the approbation of men [And supposing some approve and some 
disapprove?], and consequently winning for the man who performs 
it consideration, esteem, and honour." Among warrior races such 
distinctions go to those who have slain most enemies, among can- 
nibals to those who have eaten most. Order is "the disposition of a 
number of things with reference to some specified end and propor- 
tioned to a desired effect." 

And at last we come to propriety. "Propriety {convenance) ap- 
proximates order itself. It is a relationship of conformity [What is 
this conformity?] among several things, each of which is in itself 
promotive of the preservation and perfection of the other [And what 
this perfection?], and does its share in maintaining it in a good 
and advantageous estate." Good for whom? Advantageous for 
whom ? A poison that leaves no trace "is promotive of the preserva- 
tion and perfection" of the man who wants to murder a neighbour, 
and maintains him in an estate that is "good and advantageous" for 
him; but it cannot be said to be "promotive of the preservation and 
perfection" of the victim, or that it maintains the victim in a "good 
and advantageous estate." There is no such thing as a general pro- 
priety, in the sense given the term by Burlamaqui. The standpoint 
from which the propriety is viewed has to be specified. 

440. Burlamaqui, instead, talks of everything objectively, as though 
his entities had an independent existence of their own (§ 471). And 
how he uses his definitions! hoc. cit., %zz. 3: "So we must not con- 
fuse the just, the useful, the honest. . . . But those ideas, though 
distinct from one another, contain nothing incompatible the one 
with the other. They are three relations which can all be appropri- 
ate and can all be applied to one and the same action considered 
from different points of view. And if they be traced back to their 
origin, they will be found to derive all from a common source, or 
from one and the same principle, as three branches from the same 


tree-trunk. That general principle is the approbation of reason." 
Really now, was there any good excuse for taking such a roundabout 
route just to pay a call on Milady Reason, a lady already charged 
so many times with originating natural law? 

441. Vattel gives right reason a rest; but it is of litde relief to 
us, for in its stead another actor comes on the scene, a certain "happi- 
ness," which is even more of an unknown. Says Vattel : ^ "Natural 
law is the science of the laws of nature [Of a class therefore with 
chemistry, physics, astronomy, biology, and so on, which are cer- 
tainly sciences of the laws of nature? No, because Vattel soon 
changes tack], of those laws which nature lays down for men, or 
to which they are subject for the very reason that they are men; a 
science, the first principle of which is that truth of sentiment [Here 
is a new one!], that incontestable axiom [And what if some black- 
guard did contest it ? ] that 'the great object of every being endowed 
with intelligence and sentiment is happiness.' " But what kind of 
happiness ? The happiness of the "destroyer of cities" is certainly not 
the happiness of the citizens he slays. The happiness of the thief is 
not the happiness of his victim. The happiness mentioned here is a 
particular happiness, and we are not told how it is to be distinguished 
from the thing that commonly goes by that name. Such particular 
happiness is often called "true" happiness; but that adjective is of no 
great help in getting nearer to experimental realities. Nor are we 
greatly helped either by aspersions cast upon those who refuse to 
recognize it. "There is no man, whatever his ideas on the origin 
of things, and even though he have the misfortune of being an 
atheist, who ought not to recognize the laws of nature. Those laws 
are necessary to the common happiness of men. The man who would 
reject them or manifest contempt for them would by that fact de- 
clare himself an enemy of the human race and deserve being treated 
as such" (§ 593). To imprison or burn a man is not, unfortunately, 
a logico-experimental demonstration. 

442. All these definitions and others of their kind present the fol- 
lowing characteristics: i. They use indeterminate words, which serve 

441 ^ Le droit des gens. Vol. I, pp. 39-40. 


to arouse certain sentiments, but which do not correspond to any- 
thing exact (§§380, 387, 490). 2. They define unknowns by un- 
knowns. 3. They combine definitions with theses unproved. 4. Their 
purpose, in substance, is to arouse the hearer's sentiments as far as 
possible in order to lead him to a pre-established conviction. 

443. Selden begins by noting that the writers who have dealt 
with natural law have derived it from four different sources: (i) 
from that which is common to all animate beings or, (2) to all 
nations, or most nations; (3) from natural reason accurately used; 
(4) finally, from the will of the Divine Majesty, author of nature, 
and therefore of natural reason.^ He rejects the first three sources and 
accepts only the fourth, limiting natural reason, however, to the 
natural reason of the Hebrews and divine will to the authority of 
the Hebrew God. 

444. The Talmud gives instructive details as to the manner in 
which the various nations were enabled to have knowledge of the 
Law given by the Hebrew God. The manner described is after all 
no less credible than that of Right Reason, while it has the ad- 
vantage of being more effective, and Bertinoro quite properly ob- 
serves that in view of it the nations could not excuse themselves by 
saying: "We had no way of learning the law." ^ 

443 ^ Selden, De iiire naturali et gentium, I, 4 (Stxassburg, p. 43; Venice, p. 225) : 
"In designatione atqiie definitione Juris Naturalis quae apud scriptores solet diversi- 
mode occurrere, alii ex Aliorum Animantium actibus ac usti lura hominibus aliquot 
Naturalia petunt; alii Juris naturalis Corpus e Moribtts omnium seu plurimarum 
Gentium communibus; ex Naturali Ratione, seu recto eiusdem usu alii; et demum 
alii e Naturae ideoque Naturalis rationis Parentis, id est, sanctissimi Numinis Jm- 
perio atque Jndicatione." 

444 ^ Talmud of Babylon, Tract Sabbath, IX (Pavly, pp. 27-28; Rodkinson, Vol. 
I, p. 163) : "Each word issuing from the mouth of God on Sinai made itself heard 
in seventy different languages and filled the universe with an agreeable perfume. 
The voice of God was so powerful that at each word the Israelites retreated twelve 
leagues." Talmud of Jerusalem, Tract Sotah (The Suspected Adulteress), VII, 5 
(Schwab, Vol. VII, pp. 305-06; Danby, pp. 300-01): "Then stones were brought 
and an altar erected. It was faced with mortar and the words of the Law 
were inscribed on it in seventy languages, as it is written [Deut. 27:8 \_i.e., 31:9]]." 
Commentary (Gemara) : "Contrary to the Mishnah it has been taught that the said 
words were inscribed on stones at the place where they passed the night [Josh. 
4:3], according to an opinion of Rabbi Juda. Rabbi Yosse says that they were 
written on the stones of the altar. According to people professing the first opinion, 


445. If we keep strictly to forms, all these disquisitions on natural 
law look like a mass of nonsense. But if we disregard forms and 
consider what it is they hide, we discover inclinations and sentiments 
that exert a powerful influence in determining the constitution of 
society and therefore are worthy of closest study. Demonstrations 
given in such forms are not to be accepted because of their accord 
with certain sentiments, nor rejected because they are in patent dis- 
accord with logic and experience: we should consider them simply 
as not existing (§463), turn our attention upon the matter which 
they conceal, and examine it directly for its intrinsic characteristics. 
So our induction once more leads to the discovery that we must 
separate doctrines, as we find them stated, into two parts, and that 
of the two parts one is far more important than the other. In the 
course of our study, therefore, we shall have to try to separate those 
two parts ; and then not stop with the reflection that a certain argu- 
ment is inconclusive, idiotic, absurd, but ask ourselves whether it 
may not be expressing sentiments beneficial to society, and express- 
ing them in a manner calculated to persuade many people who 
would not be at all influenced by the soundest logico-experimental 

446. The good sense of a practical man like Montaigne is antidote 
enough for all these wild declamations on natural law: but it does 
not go far enough to locate the error where it really lies or discover 

holding that the Law was inscribed on the walls of an inn, it is conceivable that 
the nations of the world could have sent their scribes any day to copy the texts, 
since the Law was written in seventy languages. . . . But how accept the view 
(which is the view of the Mishnah) that the Law was inscribed on the stones of the 
altar? In that case must it not have been a question of some temporary structure, 
of which everything pertaining to worship must afterwards have been buried 
underground, before their departure? And how then could the pagans have 
profited by it? It was a miracle, of course! During the short space of time that 
the altar was standing, the Lord quickened the wits of the various nations, so 
that they could make rapid copies of the text of the Law written in seventy lan- 
guages." Mishnah, Sotah, VII, 5 {De uxore adulterii suspecta) (Surenhuis, Vol. Ill, 
p. 262): (Bartenor [read Bertinoro] ) : ". . . in the script of seventy nations, that 
anyone desirous of knowing the Law could do so, and that the nations might 
have no excuse by saying, 'We had no way of knowing.' " 

445 '^ For the moment it is sufficient to have seen that a path opens out before 
us here. The following of it will be a task for a later portion of this work. 

§447 NATURAL rights: the philosophes 265 

the sentiments which such arguments conceal. Says he: "Certainly 
they are amusing, these people, when they try to lend a certain 
amount of authority to their laws by saying that some of them are 
fixed, perpetual, immutable, which they call natural laws and which 
are imprinted upon human beings by the requirements of their very 

nature." ^ 

447. There are plenty of other theories neither better nor worse 
than these disquisitions on natural law, and they all arise in a desire 
to give a semblance of absoluteness and objectivity to what is rela- 
tive and subjective. Here, for example, are the Physiocrats, who have 
certain ideas as to social organization, political constitution, freedom 
of trade, and the like. They might propound them directly, as others 
—to an extent at least — have done: but no, they prefer to derive 
them from some imaginary "natural and essential order of political 
societies" — the title, in fact, of a famous book by Le Mercier de La 
Riviere.'" So back we go to battles of words. "The absolutely just may 
be defined as 'an order of duties and rights arising from a physical 
and consequently absolute necessity.' The absolutely unjust, there- 
fore, is all that is contrary to that order. The term 'absolute' is not 
used here in contradistinction to 'relative' for only in the relative 
can the just and the unjust arise. But a thing which, strictly speak- 
ing, is only relatively just becomes nevertheless absolutely just be- 
cause of its relation to the absolute necessity we are under of living 
in society." Then there is a certain "essential order" that is "the 
order of reciprocal duties and rights, the establishment of which is 
essentially necessary to the greatest possible increase of production, 
to the end that mankind may achieve the greatest possible amount 
of happiness and the greatest possible increase in numbers." This, it 
would seem, is all quite axiomatic, as is also the notion that the 
order in question is a branch of the physical order: "If any man 
were to object to recognizing the natural and essential order of so- 
ciety as a branch of the physical order, I should regard him as a 

446 ^ Essais, II, 12 

447 '^ L'ordre naturel et essentiel des societes politiqiies, pp. ir, 28, 38-39 (1910 ed., 
pp. 8, 21, 28-29). 


person determined not to see, and studiously eschew any effort to 
cure him of his blindness" (§§379, 435'). Le Mercier de La 
Riviere has one notion that is in accord, substantially, with experi- 
ence, the notion that "the social order is in no way arbitrary"; but 
the proof he gives of it is the worst imaginable. 

448. As is usual with this sort of disquisition, the author believes 
that his ideas have to be accepted by everybody the moment they 
are stated (§§59if.). "The simplicity and the obviousness of this 
social order are manifest to anyone willing to devote the slightest 
attention to it." But along comes the Abbe de Mably, who certainly 
gave the subject a great deal of attention, but was not in the least 
persuaded of this and other "obvious truths" alluded to in the first 
two parts of Le Mercier de La Riviere's work. He says : ^ "The author 
talks a great deal about obviousness, and I find nothing obvious 
about it. I have read and re-read his book, and far from finding my 
doubts diminishing in numbers, I have found them multiplying." 
At times Mably does not reason at all badly; and he is following 
principles of logico-experimental science when he observes, for in- 
stance, that a given order cannot be considered necessary to societies 
if we find actually existing societies that do without it. Le Mercier 
de La Riviere argues, p. 21, 1910 ed., p. 15, to show the necessity 
of private property in land. Mably comments: "If one were to stop 
at asking merely that every society should embrace a certain amount 
of real property, I would not feel embarrassed, for I readily see that 
it is indispensable that a society should have a domain by which its 
citizens may be assured of a living. But that one should regard as a 
matter of absolute necessity and justice a thing which civilized and 
prosperous societies have done without — that confounds my reason 
and upsets all my ideas." Ignoring, for a moment, public property 
in land and Madame Absolute Justice, a lady with whom we have 
no close acquaintance, the rest of the argument is sound. The author, 
moreover, mentions the case of Sparta, an example not so well 
chosen, for though Sparta had no private landownership of the 

448 ^ Doittes proposes aux philosophes economistes stir I'ordre naturel et essentiel 
des societes politiques, 1768, pp. 4-9 {CEuvres, 1790, Vol. XI, pp. 3-7). 


Roman type, the Spartans did know a sort of real property. But 
altogether to the point is the example of the Missions in Paraguay: 
"Even the Jesuits, sir, refute your arguments ; and in Paraguay they 
are treating themselves to the privilege of defying the essential law 
of your natural order with impunity." 

But the Abbe de Mably, like Le Mercier de La Riviere, has a pre- 
conception of his own to defend. He appeals to experience to suit his 
convenience in defending his pet idea of collective property, just as 
Le Mercier de La Riviere called on a "natural order" to help him 
defend private property in land. That explains Mably's failure to 
notice that the very same objection may be made to the first part 
of his argument that he raises in its second part. As a matter of 
fact nomadic peoples have no landed property, either collective or 
private. Mably might answer that the nomadic peoples are not to 
be counted among "civilized and prosperous societies"; but to take 
that line would militate against his own example of Paraguay for 
the very same reason. And if Le Mercier de La Riviere would only 
abandon his vagaries as to a "natural and essential order," he might 
adduce many a sound example to show that the most "civilized and 
prosperous" societies have been those very ones in which private 
property in land has existed. But to give the discussion such a turn 
would be to remove it from the field of sentiment and metaphysics, 
to which our authors often betake themselves, and transfer it to the 
field of logico-experimental science. 

Quesnay quotes a number of opinions on natural law and finds 
an element of truth in all of them;^ but "our philosophers have 
stopped at the paralogism, the incomplete argument, in their inves- 
tigations into this important matter, which is the natural principle of 
all the rational duties of man." So he then sets out to complete their 
work. First he deals with justice: "If I am asked what justice is, I 
answer that 'it is a natural and sovereign rule recognized by the 
light of reason [If the "reason" of some individuals "recognizes" one 
rule, and the "reason" of other individuals another, how are we to 
pick the good one?], which clearly determines what belongs to one- 

448 ^ Le droit naturel, pp. 42-43, 52-53. 


self and what to someone else.' " After a good deal of rambling, he 
arrives at this conclusion: "Men living together in a society must 
therefore be subject to natural laws and positive laws. . . . Natural 
laws are either physical or moral. By physical laws is here meant 'the 
regulated course of every physical event of the natural order, which is 
obviously the order most advantageous to mankind.' By moral law is 
here meant 'the rule of every human action of the moral order con- 
sistent with the physical order, which is obviously the order most ad- 
vantageous to mankind.' The sum of such laws makes up what is 
called 'natural law.' All men and all human powers must be subject 
to these sovereign laws instituted by the Supreme Being. [So Quesnay 
increases by one the very considerable number of individuals who 
have thought they knew the will of the Supreme Being in question 
and who, unhappily, are not in very close agreement.] They are 
immutable and irrefragable, and the best possible laws." To reason 
in such fashion is to reason in a circle; for if natural law is defined 
as that "which is obviously the most advantageous to mankind," it 
would be difficult to understand how "the sum of laws making up 
natural law" could contain anything but "the best possible laws." It 
is indeed surprising that these "immutable and irrefragable" laws 
should not have been discovered before Quesnay's time, and that 
they should not have been universally adopted once he had discov- 
ered them and revealed them to an eager world.^ 

448 ^ Daire, in his Observations, in Physiocrates, Vol. II, pp. 438-39, finds 
these theories of Quesnay and his commentator, Le Mercier de La Riviere, alto- 
gether admirable: "Instead of looking to the nature of man and his relations to 
the external world for the immutable laws that establish and maintain order 
within societies, our publicists and theologians have imagined that they 
were called upon to invent such laws; and the institutions at present pre- 
vailing in Europe bear witness to the success with which, in this connexion,, they 
have replaced the views of the Creator with their own." But the Creator could not 
have foreseen any such substitution; otherwise He would have prevented it. Daire 
observes that Le Mercier de la Riviere goes counter to Rousseau's doctrines: "In- 
stead of asking the legislator to create an order, Le Mercier de La Riviere urges 
him to conform to the order that is, and to seek a basis for it nowhere else than 
in the sentiment and reason that have been bestowed upon man that he may 
recognize the immutable laws on which his existence and his happiness here 
below depend." In this there is a timid effort to escape from the fog of metaphysics, 
but it is not a successful one. Never mind the appeal to the Creator and his 


449. Interesting the analogy between such theories and that con- 
temporary metaphysical dream known as the theory of solidarity. 
In the latter, as in one of the theories of natural law, the starting- 
point is — or rather, is alleged to be — experience. The theory of nat- 
ural law recognizes a law common to human beings and animals. 
The theory of solidarity goes that one better and recognizes a law 
of interdependence among human beings, animals, plants, and min- 
erals. If natural law was good, this law of solidarity is perfect.^ 

450. But these estimable metaphysicists have little patience with 
experience; so they are soon rid of it through one door or another. 
Natural law eventually allowed its animals to go to the dogs. The 
doctrine of solidarity does even better. It repudiates its own origin 
to the point of setting up a solidarity-fact in contradistinction to a 

451. How are we to find this latter? After all that we have been 
saying the canny reader cannot have a doubt. What in the world 
else are such things as "right reason," "nature," "the just," "the hon- 
est," good for? Just as they yielded the theory of natural law in a 
day gone by, so will they yield a theory of solidarity now, and as 

views, which transports us to the domain of theology. "Immutable laws that estab- 
lish and maintain order," and "the sentiment and reason bestowed on man that he 
may recognize" those laws, transport us far afield into the domain of final causes, 
or, in any event, remove us from the experimental field, where "immutable laws" 
designed for one purpose or another do not exist, but just plain facts and uniformi- 
ties between them (§ 99). 

449 ^ Bourgeois, Essai d'une philosopliie de la solidaritS, p. 3: "In the first 
place, what is objective solidarity, considered as a fact? Kant said: 'What makes 
up an organism is the reciprocity between its parts.' In that lies the germ of all 
biology. [This fanatic of "Science" might have quoted a biologist rather than a 
metaphysicist on a point of that kind.] ... So the idea of life is identical with 
the idea of association. And the doctrine of evolution has shown the law by which 
this interdependence of parts contributes to the development, the progress, of each 
individual, each group of individuals." 

450 ^ Bourgeois, Ibid., p. 13: "So here we are very far removed from a solidarity- 
fact and very close to a solidarity-duty. Let us never confuse them; they are oppo- 
sites. But it was necessary to establish the existence of the former in order to per- 
ceive the moral necessity of the latter." Milady Science has tripped rather hastily 
across the stage to vanish through the wings! Solidarity-fact has, however, found 
a champion in one Dr. Papillant, Ibid., p. 25: "I would make a demand in the 
name of natural solidarity, to which, in my judgment, too litde attendon is being 
paid." Cj. Bentham's attitude towards morality. 


many other similar theories as writers of some moderate talent are 
pleased to devise (§ 1557).^ 
452. In the theories that we have just been examining three ele- 

, ments are distinguishable: (i) an experimental element, which is 
rarely absent but is often more apparent than real; (2) a metaphysi- 

f cal trans-experimental element, which is often dissembled but is 
i never absent; (3) a theological element — and one therefore beyond 
experience, which is present in certain theories and absent in others. 
These last two elements are usually chosen from among the doc- 
trines that enjoy greatest prestige in the society in which the author 
of the theory is living. Theology was not enforced in ancient pagan 
society, and the theological element is therefore missing in many 
theories which arose in those days. It is seldom absent, however, in 

451 '■ Bourgeois, Op. cit., pp. 8, 62-65, 72-75, 242: "When we ask what conditions 
a human society must satisfy in order to maintain its balance, we are forced to 
recognize that only one word can state them: 'Justice must be!' " But a query sug- 
gests itself. The societies that have hitherto existed in history — have they had their 
balance or not? If they have, they must have had justice already; and in that case 
why should M. Leon Bourgeois be trying to get it now through solidarity? If they 
have not enjoyed such balance, what is a "balance" that has never yet been known 
of men? "I am well aware that another purpose has been assigned to society, which 
is nothing less than happiness assured to each of its members. . . . Happiness is 
not material, divisible, externally realizable. The ideal of society is justice for all." 
Exactly what such a justice would be, M. Leon Bourgeois seems not to know, or 
at least he chooses not to tell. The objection had been raised: "M. Leon Bourgeois 
has declared that the origin of the idea of justice is of no importance, the moment 
one agrees that justice is necessary. All the same, very important practical conse- 
quences follow from the conception one has of justice." The reply is: "M. Leon 
Bourgeois . . . has not seen fit in this exposition to go into the question of the 
origins of tlie concept of justice. [He was not asked to discuss origins but to 
define the thing he calls justice.] However one try to explain them, the idea 
of and the hunger for justice are present in the human heart. That is a fact, 
which need simply be determined as a fact and with which we can start, and all 
the better since if theoretically there may be disagreement as to the first principles 
from which it is derived, practically everybody is in substantial agreement as to 
the meaning, significance, and content of this notion of justice." And so we find 
creeping in our never-sufficiently-praised friend and old acquaintance. Universal 
Consensus (§§59if.). And miracle indeed had it failed to materialize! And 
Mademoiselle Raison? Patience' She too will soon be coming to the rescue of 
M. Leon Bourgeois! In his SolidaritS, p. 76, one reads: "If the primal notion of 
good and evil is a necessity [What does that mean?], if the sentiment of moral 
obligation constitutes a 'categorical imperative' within us, the intellectual activity 
whereby the human being strives to define good and evil and determine the 


theories originating in Christian societies, in which theology has 
been enforced. But of late, poor Theology has been driven from her 
throne and Science has taken her place — not experimental science, 
observe, but a certain metaphysical entity on w^hich the name of 
science has been foisted. 

453. Burlamaqui called religion to his support (§§43of.). If he 
had lived in our times he would have appealed to Science. M. Leon 
Bourgeois resorts to Science. Had he lived in Burlamaqui's time he 
would have resorted to religion. The reader must not imagine that 
such a thing embarrasses those estimable gentlemen in the slightest. 
They know what they are driving at, and they are not unaware that 
all roads lead to Rome ! ^ 

premise of the moral obligation belongs to the domain of reason. . . . Everything 
in man's environment has evolved in proportion as the moral idea, the supreme 
function of the reason, has evolved within him." May Mademoiselle Raison be 
blessed vi'ith a long and prosperous life, that metaphysicists of the future may find 
her the loyal helpmeet she has proved to be to their predecessors! And a little 
place has been kept for Dame Nature too! Essai, p. 10: "In the first place Nature 
has designs of her own [The wicked hussy!], designs which are not our designs. 
The special aim of man in society is justice [Even in slave-holding societies?], and 
jusdce has never been the aim of Nature. Nature is not unjust, she is a-just. There 
is nothing in common therefore between the purposes of Nature and the purposes 
of society." And yet, certain predecessors of M. Leon Bourgeois, to wit, the Stoics, 
assured us that the supreme principle of morality was to live according to Nature 
(§ 1605)! How are we to know whether Bourgeois is right, or the Stoics? Meta- 
physicists have so long been inquiring into the purposes of Nature that by this 
time they should have discovered what they are. But each of them is sdll going 
his own road, and we, poor wretches, do not know whom to bet on. And the 
principle of sociability (sociality), which was of service to Pufendorf in his time, 
does not fail M. Leon Bourgeois. Implicitly it is present in everything Bourgeois 
writes. It appears here and there explicitly: Xavier Leon, Le jon dement rational de 
la solidarite, p. 242: "Reason does not know individuals as such. Reason is realized 
by individuals in the mass, by all humanity [What a lucky man to know what 
"to realize reason" means!]. Reason is essendally human reason. . . , This emi- 
nently social trait in reason is the foundation of solidarity. It is that trait which 
confers on solidarity a moral value that one would strive in vain to extract from 
the empirical determination of a biological or social fact, or from the implications 
of a more or less tacit contract." (The passage is continued in the next foot-note.) 
453 ^ Bourgeois, Solidarite, p. 25: "The sciendfic method is today making its way 
into all orders of knowledge. The most refractory minds, grudgingly it may be, 
are one by one submitdng to it." That was written for the benefit of the French 
and<lericals. As we read on, p. 73, we see what the science of M. Leon Bourgeois 
is: "The idea of right and wrong is, in itself, an ultimate idea: it is a primal fact. 


454. It is understandable that Christian philosophy should look to 
the will of God for the origin of natural law. It might well be satis- 
fied with that; and we should then have a theory consisting of a 
purely theological element. But it prefers also to have the aid of the 
metaphysical element, and perhaps of an experimental element — 
further proof that the form of such theories depends not so much 
upon their subject-matter as upon the concepts that are most in 
repute in the society in which they circulate. Most men refuse to be 
shut up within mere theology, and to win their assent the support 
of metaphysics and experience has to be procured. 

455. We are told that "natural law is implanted and written in 
the heart of man directly by God Himself and that its purpose is 
to guide man, who aspires to his goal as a free being capable of good 
and evil." ^ Granted that God has "implanted and written" natural 
law in the heart of man, how are we to discover it ? If by revelation 
exclusively, we would have an exclusively theological theory. But 
metaphysics interposes and even, it would seem, experience. 

456. St. Paul in his time said, Rom. 2: 14-15: "For when the Gen- 
tiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in 
the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves : which 
shew the work of the law written in their hearts." Experience, there- 
fore, might lead to the discovery of it in the hearts of men. But we 
are soon warned that we are not to trust exclusively to conscience, 
since it has been corrupted, Loc. cit.: "The primordial faculties of 
man have been enfeebled by original sin; so it is natural that the 
implications [of natural law] should not ever be drawn in their full 

an essential attribute of humanity." But metaphysicists had said that two thousand 
years ago and more. It was hardly necessary to drag in science to repeat it. His 
"science" and the old metaphysics are as alike as two peas. Why then give two 
different names to the same thing? For no other reason than to play on certain 
sentiments now widely prevalent that are favourable to Milady Science. Xavier 
Leon, Le fondefnent rational de la solidarite, p. 245: "Solidarity is therefore jus- 
tified as an exigency of reason. It is in substance the principle of intelligibility in 
our conduct, the prerequisite to the realization of unity of reason in humanity." 
If that is not metaphysics, what is metaphysics? 

455 '^ Dictionnaire encyclopedique de la theologie catholiqiie, s.v. "Droit" (Wet- 
zer, s.v. Recht). The author quotes St. Paul, Rom. 2:15: ". . . Which shew the 
work of the law written in their hearts." 


perfection by any man, and that often they should be drawn incom- 
pletely and erroneously. And that is why human laws, which are 
not and ought not to be anything but consequences of natural law, 
are always imperfect, often defective, and sometimes false." This 
"law of nature" turns up again in ancient Irish law, with postscripts 
by the Church and learned Irish doctors.^ 

457. St. Thomas identified: (i) an eternal law, existing in the 
divine mind; (2) a natural law, existing in men and partaking of 
the eternal law, and by which men discern good and evil; (3) a 
law devised by men, whereby they make provision for what is con- 
tained in the natural law; and finally (4), a divine law whereby 
men are infallibly led to the supernatural goal — supreme beatitude.^ 
Her Ladyship Right Reason is absent from all this, but we soon see 
her putting in an appearance; and the Saint tells us that "it is cer- 
tain that all laws, in so far as they partake of right reason, are de- 
rived from the eternal law." ^ 

456 1 Maine, Early History of histitutions, pp. 24-25: "It [the Senchus Mor, one 
of the ancient Irish law-books] describes the legal rules embodied in its text as 
formed of the 'law of nature,' and of the law of the letter.' The 'law of the letter' 
is the Scriptural law, extended by so much of the Canon law as the primitive 
monastic church of Ireland can be supposed to have created or adopted. The ref- 
erence in the misleading phrase 'law of nature' is not to the memorable combina- 
tion of words familiar to the Roman lawyers, but to the text of St. Paul in the 
Episde to the Romans. . . . The 'law of nature' is, therefore, the ancient pre- 
Christian ingredient in the system, and the Senchus Mor says of it: 'The judg- 
ments of true nature while the Holy Ghost had spoken through the mouths of 
the Brehons [ancient doctors of Irish law] and just [italics mine] poets of the 
men of Erin, from the first occupation of Ireland down to the reception of the 
faith, were all exhibited by Dubhthach to Patrick. What did not clash with the 
Word of God in the written law and the New Testament and the consciences 
of believers, was confirmed in the laws of the Brehons by Patrick and by the 
ecclesiastics and chieftains of Ireland; for the law of nature had been quite right 
except as to the faith, and its obligations, and the harmony of the Church and 
people. And this is the Senchus Mor.' " 

457 '^ Summa theologiae, P IP% qu. 91 {Opera, Vol. VII, pp. 153-58: De legum 
diversitate) . 

4,57 ^ ibid., Ja Ipe, qu. 93, art. 3 {Opera, Vol. VII, p. 164) : "Ouoniam, teste B. 
Augustino, in temporali lege nihil est iustum ac Icgitimum quod non sit ex lege 
aeterna profectum, certum est omnes leges, in quantum participant de ratione recta, 
intantum a lege aeterna derivari." [In the form above this text is the conclusio of 
the argument Utrum omnis lex a lege aeterna derivetur in the 1570 edition. It 
figures only in substance in the Leo XIII edition. — A. L.] 


458. The Decretum of Master Gratian defines natural law in prac- 
tically the same terms as Roman law (§ 419), so taking us back to 
a pseudo-experimental notion. The concession, however, is of little 
avail, as it is still necessary to consider what is required by Scripture 
and Catholic tradition.^ 

459. When Nature is taken as the direct source of natural law, 
concepts of the latter may be regarded as innate ideas and so take 
on an absolute character — which in no way spares us the trouble of 
resorting to divine activity in order to account for the innate ideas. 

460. Denying innate ideas, Locke is logically required to reject the 
theory of natural law deriving from them. But that is of little gain 
to science, for we at once go back to the domain of right reason. 
Says he:^ "I would not here be mistaken, as if, because I deny an 
innate law, I thought there were none but positive laws. There is a 
great deal of difference between an innate law and a law of nature; 
between something imprinted on our minds in their very original, 
and something that we being ignorant of may attain to the knowl- 
edge of, by the use and due application of our natural faculties." 
This is still the metaphysical method, which presupposes the exist- 
ence of abstract entities; and it is probable that even had Locke de- 
sired to part from it, he would have been restrained from doing so 
by the consideration that he could not, without serious mishap, 
change the destination at which his argument had to arrive at all 
costs — the existence of a natural law. 

458 ^ Decretum Gratiani, pars I, distinctio i, canones 6-j (Friedberg, Vol. I, p. 
2) : "Law is either natural law, or civil law, or the law of nations. . . . Natural 
law is the common law of all peoples, since it arises by instinct of nature {instinctti 
naturae) and not by any legislative act {constitutione) ." And cf. Isidore, Etymolo- 
giae, V, 4, I. But as Lancelotto cautions in his histitutiones tuns canontct, lib. I, 
tit. a, (p. 11): "The above must be taken as applying to such customs as are not in 
conflict with divine law and canonical legislation; for if anything be found at 
variance with Catholic faith, it is to be regarded not so much as custom as long- 
standing error {vetustas erroris)." Isidore, Ibid., II, 10, 3: "If law is based on rea- 
son, everything will be law that is based on reason, provided it be consistent with 
religion, in harmony with [Church] teachings {disciplinae conveniat) and promo- 
tive of salvation through reason." 

460 ^ Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Bk. I, Chap. II, § 13 {Works, Vol. 
I, p. 44). 


461. Grotius posits the metaphysical element a priori, the experi- 
mental element a posteriori.'' His French translator, Barbeyrac, per- 
ceives the weakness of the demonstration a posteriori; but instead 
of observing that natural law is beyond experience and therefore to 
be regarded as scientifically non-existent, he grasps at the meta- 
physical demonstration and judges it valid.^ 

462. Hobbes, Libertas, I, 2, denies that natural law is given by 
universal consensus, or even by the consensus of the wisest and most 
civilized nations, sensibly asking who is to judge of the wisdom of 
a nation (§ 592). There can, he thinks. Ibid., II, 2, be no other law 
of nature except reason, nor any precepts of reason save such as 
point the way to peace, if peace be attainable, or in default of that, 
to the means of defence by war. As usual religion and morality are 
eventually called in {Ibid., IV, i). The laws that are said to be of 
nature because prescribed by natural reason are moral laws, since 
they relate to conduct, and divine laws, since God is their author. 
They cannot therefore run counter to the divine word as revealed 

461 '^De iure belli ac pads, I, i, 12 (pp. 5-6 — translation from Barbeyrac's 
French translation): "There are two ways of proving that a thing is part of nat- 
ural law, the one a priori . . . [by reasons derived from the intrinsic nature of 
the thing]; the other a posteriori [by reasons derived from something external]. 
The first, the subder [and more abstract], lies in showing the necessary accord 
or disaccord of the thing with a rational and sociable nature such as that of man. 
[So there are other such natures? What are they?] Following the other more 
vulgar line [Science is vulgar, metaphysics sublime.], it is inferred, if not with 
certainty at least with great probability, that a thing belongs to natural law be- 
cause it is regarded as so belonging among all nations, or at least among the more 
civilized (moratiores) nations; for a universal effect presupposing a universal 
cause, an opinion so general can hardly have any other source than what is called 
common sense." [Barbeyrac's rendering is very free. His additions are printed in 
brackets. The Latin of Grodus begins: "Esse autem aliqiiid juris natural is proban 
solet turn ab eo quod prius est, turn ab eo quod posterius, quarum probaiidt ra- 
tionum ilia subtilior est, haec popularior." And see Campbell, p. 24. — A. L.] 

461 2 Barbeyrac, note to his word "certainty," §461^: "This manner of proving 
natural law is not very generally used, because only the most general principles 
of natural law are accepted at all widely among the nations; and of some of the 
most self-evident principles the contraries have long been regarded as matters of 
indifference in the most civilized countries, as witness the horrible custom of ex- 
posing infants." 


in Scripture. All of which is proved with an impressive array of 

463. Epicurus, in his time, had sought the definition of natural 
justice in the pact, or contract/ Hobbes makes the contract one of 
the cardinal principles in his system, as do Rousseau with his famous 
social contract and the solidaristes of our day — all of them drawing 
different conclusions from the same premise. That is not surprising, 
since the principle is lacking in any exact meaning and the argu- 
ments based upon it derive their force not from logic and experi- 
ence but from accords of sentiments. All such theories are infected — 
and therefore sterilized — with the same lack of exactness. From the 
logico-experimental standpoint they are neither true nor false: they 
are simply meaningless (§ 445). 

464. So far we have been speaking of a religion, a law, a morality; 
but, as we cautioned above (§ 373), not even such unity can be as- 
sumed. In point of fact not only are there various religions, various 
moralities, various laws ; but even if one may say that there are types 
of such entities, we have to pay due attention to the deviations from 
them which are met with in the concrete. Let us assume for a mo- 
ment — though the assumption is in general contrary to fact — that, 
in a restricted group of people at least, a certain theoretical type 
prevails from which actual beliefs and actual conduct may be re- 
garded as deviations. In a group having a civil code, for instance, it 
may be assumed — though the premise would not be altogether true 
to fact — that court decisions, as dictated by the jurisprudence which 
has developed side by side with the code (sometimes in opposition 

462 ^ See also Leviathan, XV. Hobbes draws a distinction between natural right 
which is every individual's right to defend himself, and natural law, which is the 
norm in deference to which the individual refrains from doing what may be 
harmful to himself. Leviathan, XIV (Latin version): "]us et lex differunt ut lib- 
ertas et obligatio"; English version: "Law and Right differ as much as Obligation 
and Liberty." 

463 ^ Diogenes Laertius, Epicurus, X, 150 (Hicks, Vol. II, pp. 673-75) : "Natural 
justice is a symbol or expression of expediency, to prevent one man from harming 
or being harmed by another. Since animals are incapable of making covenants 
with one another to the end that they may neither inflict nor suffer harm, they are 
without either justice or injustice. And so for peoples which have been either unable 
or unwilling to form mutual covenants to the same end." 


to it), or as formulated through error or ignorance on the part of 
magistrates, or for other reasons, are mere deviations from the norms 
of the code. 

465. Suppose, for a hypothesis, it be a Catholic group. Three types 
of deviation v^^ill be observable: 

1. The believer is perfectly sincere, but sins because the flesh is 
weak; he repents and detests his sins. In that we get a complete 
separation of theory and practice. It is the situation represented in 
the well-known lines of Ovid, Metamorphoses, VII, vv. 20-21: 

. . . video meliora proboque — 
deteriora sequor. 

Practice does not in the least presume to become theory. All con- 
fessors know that in this connexion there are very considerable dif- 
ferences between individuals. Some fall frequently into the same sin, 
others relapse more rarely. It is evident that two collectivities having 
precisely the same theoretical faith may differ practically, according 
as one of them has more individuals of the first kind than of the 
second kind. 

2. The believer is of lukewarm faith. He more or less disregards 
the precepts of his religion, and feels little or no remorse. Here we 
already get the germ of a theoretical divergence. Certain believers 
are merely indifferent; in their case the theoretical deviation is very 
slight. Others think they can atone for their religious shortcomings 
in some way. Still others do not even consider them shortcomings — 
they argue, split hairs, resort to casuistry. So theoretical deviations 
arise, and they grow like parasitic plants on the orthodox faith. In 
that way practical deviations go hand in hand with theoretical devia- 
tions, though these are not carried to the point of schism. 

3. Theoretical differences become accentuated. Schism, heresy, 
partial or complete denial of the type-theory, ensue. On reaching 
that point, the deviation ceases to be a deviation, and we get an 
actually new type of theory. 

As usual, transitions from one sort of deviation to another take 
place by imperceptible degrees. 


466. To neglect these deviations and consider the type-theories only 
is the source of serious errors in sociology. Nothing can be more 
mistaken than to evaluate the influence of a given religion by its 
theology. We should be going very far wide of the truth were we, 
for example, to reason: "The Christian religion enjoins forgiveness 
of offences; hence the people of the Middle Ages, who were very 
good Christians indeed, always turned the other cheek." It would be 
erroneous to the same degree to appraise the social value of a moral- 
ity by the theoretical statement of it. 

A lesser error, but still quite a serious one, is to assume that court 
decisions in a given country are made in accord with its written 
laws.^ The constitutions of the Byzantine emperors were often a 
dead letter. In our day, both in Italy and in France the written laws 
of the civil code may supply at least an approximate picture of prac- 
tical legislation; but the penal code and its written laws do not in 
the least correspond with practical decisions, and the divergence is 
frequently enormous. We need say nothing of constitutional law. 
There is no relation whatever between theory and practice, except in 
the minds of a few silly theorists.^ 

466 '^Liberte, July 25, 1912: "Moulins. The Court of Criminal Sessions at Allier 
has dealt with the case of Louis Auclair, 18, travelling salesman of Moulins, in- 
dicted for the murder of his father. Since the death of his mother at Cosne-sur- 
rCEil last year, young Auclair had been on bad terms with his father. The latter 
had sold his property for some 20,000 francs and purchased at Montlu^on, ave. 
Jules Ferry, a drinking-place that he began operating with his son. Shortly he 
took to drinking heavily, and young Auclair became uneasy as to his share in his 
father's property. Violent quarrels took place between father and son. One day 
the young man stole 1,000 francs from the barman, and left home, going to live 
at Moulins. On April 6 last he went back to Montlu(;on, and a new quarrel with 
his father resulted. About midnight, on the evening of the seventh, he broke into 
his father's establishment. The barman, hearing a noise, hurried down to the bar, 
and found the young man working at the till. Louis Auclair now pleads that he 
had gone there just to dare his father, not for purposes of robbery. In any 
case, there was a scuflSe and the young man shot his father through the stomach, 
killing him. The jury handed in such a mild verdict that the Court sentenced 
the man responsible for such an abominable crime to one year in prison." If such 
a news item came not from France but from some little-known country, one might 
conclude that the written laws of that country dealt leniently with parricide — and 
that might be a mistaken inference. 

466 ^ Here is an example chosen at random. It is typical of many other cases not 
only in France, but in Italy and other countries. Liberte, Mar. 23, 1912 (article 


A practical fact is the result of many other facts, some of which 
give rise to theories and may therefore be learned through them. 
Take, for example, a penal decision following the verdict of a jury. 
Distinguishable among the factors entering into such a sentence are 

by G. Berthoulat) : "Sabotage of Justice: In spite of the conspiracy of silence, public 
attention is fixed on political interference in the Rochette case. Quite aside from the 
facts that have already come to light, ordinary horse-sense is enough: how could a 
man like Rochette, with such a retinue of pontiffs of the Bloc in his debt, whether 
public attorneys or otherwise, have failed to provide himself with a parliamentary 
body-guard? One need not hesitate on the point: Rochette did demand such pro- 
tecdon! . . . That is why, in deference to an order from higher up, the Attorney 
General was compelled to move for the scandalous adjournment of the Rochette 
case, a modon in which M. Bidault de L'Isle docilely acquiesced and which 
M. Fabre himself, in his report, calls 'the one humiliation of my career.' Along 
with this case of sabotage of the courts, the Abbot of Launay, speaking before 
the Senate yesterday, gave the proofs of another no less serious in that astonishing 
case of the Chartreuse which, even more than the Duez episode, is the jewel of 
the liquidations in which the famous 'billion' went up in smoke. The Chartreuse 
was worth fifty millions. Why was it knocked down at five hundred thousand? 
Because it had depreciated! . . . But there again there have been political influ- 
ences: and they were so effectively employed that the liquidator suddenly became 
the guardian of the individual named in his complaint. And the Court at Grenoble, 
though the case had been regularly brought before it, ruled in 1906, 1908, and 1909 
that the papers in the case were to be held 'non-existent.' But they existed all the 
same, and so certainly that the Senate was asked to take official cognizance of 
them yesterday. However, politics having decided to 'get out the life-boats' for the 
plunderers of the Chartreuse, the Court and full bench of Grenoble did not shrink 
from that extraordinary miscarriage of justice. To fill out the trio of sensational 
acts of sabotage, what about this one: the pardon of the incendiaries of Ay ob- 
tained on February 11 by M. Bourgeois at the instance of his 'control,' M. Valle? 
Those rascals had been sentenced to relatively insignificant terms in the reformatory, 
for had they not been clients of M. Valle they would have gone to the penitentiary. 
They had been captured in the act of chopping holes in roofs, pouring gasoline 
inside and setting fire to the buildings. The town of Ay will have to foot bills 
that run into the millions on the single account of the arson and depredations of 
those individuals." 

Then come the verdicts of the "kind-hearted juries" and other court decisions 
equally fantastic. A woman kills her husband and her aunt without serious provo- 
cation. Here is an account of her trial. Liberie, May 12, 1912: "Mme. P ap- 
peared before Criminal Sessions this morning gowned in deep mourning. She did 
not cease sobbing once during the whole session, her hysterics causing a suspension 
of her examination several times. Presiding Justice: 'Why did you kill your hus- 
band?' A. 'I was carried away by a power beyond me. If, at that moment, anyone 
had come and stopped me and said, "What are you doing, crazy?" I would have 
come to myself — nothing would have happened.' President: 'You were so little 
out of your head that when you reached the Gare d'Austerlitz, you went to the 


the following: i. Written law — the part it plays in criminal cases 
is often insignificant. 2. Political influences — in certain cases very 
important. 3. Humanitarian inclinations in judges and jurymen — 
these are knowable from humanitarian theory and literary sources. 

toilet and reloaded your revolver.' A. 'I would have reloaded ten revolvers at that 
moment. I was out of my head. I was so little aware of what had happened that I 
thought I was going to surprise my husband and my aunt at Savigny. I did not 
remember what I had just done in the rue Sedaine.' President: 'After your second 
crime you returned to Paris, took your daughter in your arms and said: "Forgive 
me, I am a murderer!" ' At this allusion the defendant bursts into hysterical sobs. 
Recovering a little she cries time after time: 'My child, my child, forgive me, 
please, please, forgive me!' Witnesses are called. The defence asks permission to 
call the litde Paquerette, nine years old, the defendant's daughter. The prosecution 
and the presiding justice object, describing such an examination as an 'impropriety.' 
The defence insists. The defendant has hysterics again, requiring four policemen 
to hold her. She screams: 'My darling! My little girl! Forgive your mother!' The 
girl testifies in a barely audible childish voice that her mama told her always to 
remember her father in her prayers at night, and that her mama had never said 
anything unkind of her father. The moving scene deeply affects the spectators. 
After a recess. State's Attorney Wattinne closes with a severe arraignment of the 
defendant. The jury brings in a verdict of not guilty and the Court releases 
Mme. P ." 

This is merely typical of a situation that is general. Says M. Loubat, Attorney- 
General at Lyons in a letter to the Temps, August, 191 2: "Juries should be made 
up with a view to social defence and not to the occasional and fairly rare political 
cases that may come before Criminal Sessions. The results of the present system 
speak for themselves. Our highest criminal jurisdiction, which ought to approxi- 
mate something like absolute justice in view of the tremendous and at times 
irreparable punishments that it has within its powers, is the least reliable, the 
most capricious, the most unpredictable imaginable. Certain verdicts are acts of 
downright aberradon: parricide is condoned by a jury; in one same session de- 
fendants will be condemned to death, others equally guilty will be acquitted. If a 
court of judges indulged in such insanities there would be a public revolt. Such 
scandals would be impossible if the jury contained more men who were less credu- 
lous and less responsive to emotional stresses in the court-room." 

Interested in a practical reform, the Attorney-General was here confining his 
attack to the point where the evil seemed greatest. But looking at the facts 
theoredcally, decisions by judges are on the whole no better than jury verdicts. 
The services rendered the French Ministry by the Court of Appeals in the Dreyfus 
case are a matter of common knowledge. A very competent individual writes to the 
Gazette de Lausanne from Paris, Sept. 4, 1912: "You may be surprised that [for the 
Court of the Seine] we have not more than three or four Assistant Presiding 
Justices out of the dozen that are at all capable. For my part I am surprised that 
there are that many. They are not chosen for ability, but in view of their polidcal 
afSIiations. If they are competent jurists, that is just a matter of chance; and if 
they are independent, it is by oversight. On that bench we have at present a some- 


4. Emotional, socialistic, social, political, and other inclinations on 
the part of jurymen — all knowable from theories and literary 
sources. 5. The general notion common to all despotisms, whether 
royal, oligarchical, or democratic, that the law does not bind the 
"sovereign," and that the "sovereign" may substitute personal whims 
for enacted law. This notion, too, is knowable through theories. In 
our day it is the fashion to say that "what we need is a 'living' law," 
a "flexible" law, a law that "adapts itself to the public conscience." 
Those are all euphemisms for the caprice of the individuals in 
power. 6. Numberless other inclinations, which are not perhaps gen- 
erally operative, but which may chance to be preponderant in the 
minds of the twelve individuals — usually of no great intelligence, 
no serious education, no very high moral sense — who are called upon 
to serve on juries. 7. Private interests of the citizens in question. 8. 
The temporary impression made upon them by some striking fact — 
so after a series of startling crimes juries are inclined to be severe for 
a time. 

In a word, it may be said that court decisions depend largely upon 
the interests and sentiments operative in a society at a given mo- 
ment; and also upon individual whims and chance events; and but 
slightly, and sometimes not at all, upon codes or written law.^ All 

time Radical Senator who was beaten for re-election. He was appointed to the 
bench because he was a Radical and because he was regarded as a victim of the 
'Reaction.' Now it happens that he is a first<lass jurist, and so much the better. 
But had he not known how to serve a summons he would have been appointed 
with no more hesitation." That is France. In Italy things are worse, and by far. 
466 ^ It would take a volume to quote some very small fraction of the facts 
adducible to this point. A writer in Liberie, Jan. 11, 1913 (L. Latapie), declares 
that the French magistrate today stands "helpless, spineless, in the face of an 
avalanche of crime and law-breaking. He defends society by waving a perfumed 
handkerchief at the dirk and brass knuckles of the bandit. Yesterday, in the 
Goutte-d'Or section, a mob all but lynched a biu-glar who was run down after 
being surprised on a 'job.' His record showed twenty-three convictions for house- 
breaking! Twenty-three times the police had discovered and arrested that particu- 
lar rogue; and twenty-three times the courts had turned him loose with insig- 
nificant penalties! Nevertheless there is a law covering cases of incorrigible crim- 
inals. The magistrates do not enforce it, doubtless in fear of weakening their sup- 
port among the 'advanced' parties. If Paris were suddenly purged of the fifty 
thousand professional criminals who could be in jail as well as not but who are 
left free to disturb the public peace, the Army of the Revolution would lose its 


such factors, provided they be general and strongly influential, give 
rise to theories; and that is why we are studying now one theory, 
now another, not so much to become familiar with them in them- 
selves as to attain through them a picture of the tendencies in which 
they originate. 

467. In § 12 we noted the necessity of distinguishing between the 
subject-matter of a theory and the nexus by which the matter was 
drawn together to constitute the theory. In connexion with any 
given theory, therefore, two general and two particular problems 
arise. In general: i. What are the elements utilized by theories? 2. 
What is the nexus that combines them? In particular: i. What are 
the elements utilized by a particular theory (§ 470) ? 2. What is the 
nexus that combines them (§ 519) ? Our solution of those problems 
in § 13 yielded, in fact, a classification of types of theories. Now we 
must go deeper into that matter, which at the time we barely sign- 
boarded for future investigation. 

most reliable troops. Our judges are getting along on the best of terms with the 
Revolution. Outrages against persons and property find an indefatigable spirit of 
forgiveness in the courts so long as the culprits hide behind some political pretext. 
Thieves and gunmen are so well aware of that that they never fail any longer to 
afiBliate with the Anarchist party before setting out on a 'job.' If they shoot down 
a bank messenger and take his bag it is 'to vindicate democracy.' And if they take 
a shot at a policeman it is 'to improve social conditions.' The judge blanches white 
at mendon of such dreadful social issues, and he draws his conscience down into 
his red robe the way a snail draws its head into its shell. Who knows? The courts 
may be largely responsible for the wave of crime that is today sweeping France. 
They are failing to inspire respect and fear for the law anywhere. They have so 
accustomed the professional agitator to getting off scot-free that he is considering 
himself intolerably persecuted if any gesture is made towards applying the laws 
to him. The governmental press, which is for ever flirting with the revoludonary 
parties, contributes not a little towards increasing uneasiness and hesitation among 
the judges. Their defence is well known: 'After all,' say they, 'why demand 
courage of us only.? We follow the lead of the Government. Let the Government 
display a little energy against revolutionary law-breaking. Let it dissolve its alliance 
with institutions that are avowedly making war on the country and on organized 
society. Then we'll see about restoring the majesty of the law.' " 

This last thrust is tucked in for polemical purposes. In reality, courts, Govern- 
ment, and public are moved by the same interests and sentiments. Outraged by 
some crime the public will strike down a law-breaker and then turn to feed 
anew on the inanities of humanitarians of every breed. Courts and governors 
follow the course the public approves. 

In December, 191 2, a Mme. Bloch came up for trial before Criminal Sessions in 


468. Suppose we glance at an analogous case. Similar inquiries 
arise with reference to language. Grammar answers the general 
questions. Morphology yields the elements of language — substan- 
tives, adjectives, verbs, and so on. Syntax shows how they are com- 
bined. The grammatical and the logical analysis of a given passage 
answer the particular questions arising in it. Grammatical analysis 
yields the elements (substantives, verbs, and the like) ; logical analy- 
sis shows how they are combined and the significance they acquire 
through the combination. Carrying the analogy further, we might 
say that rhetoric deals with the passage more especially under its 
subjective aspect (§ 13). 

469. The analogy extends also to the relations between theory and 
practice. Theory never gives a perfect picture of practice. Language 
is a living organism even today in our Western countries, where 
there is a continuous effort to crystallize it within specified forms, 
through which it is always breaking, much as the roots of trees split 
the ledges in the crevices of which they grow. In remote ages Ian- 
Paris for killing her husband's paramour, a certain Mrs. Bridgeman. The latter, 
as is usual with emancipated women on the American side of the Atlantic, was 
amusing herself with men while her husband devoted all his energies to money- 
making. Mme. Bloch was acquitted, and so far, nothing extraordinary — acquittals 
in such circumstances occur by tens and hundreds. What was not so commonplace 
was to hear a public ministry, which was supposed to be conducting a prosecution 
of crime, inciting to homicide. The State's Attorney delivered himself of the fol- 
lowing: "The crime of this defendant was inexcusable. She had a legitimate victim 
in her own house — her husband. Had she smitten him, we could only nod in 
approval." The correspondent of the Journal de Geneve usually has good things to 
say of the worst humanitarians. Of this detail, however, he wrote, Dec. 28, 1912: 
"The remark has caused an uproar, all the press protesting. But it would take 
more than that to keep the courts from discrediting themselves. The people at the 
Palais are playing to the galleries in a perfectly shocking manner. They seem to be 
less independent than ever as regards the higher powers, and more accessible than 
ever to the temptations of a cheap publicity. A great effort would be required to 
restore justice to the serenity, earnestness, and independence that are essential 
prerequisites to its effective functioning and prestige. The Rochette affair has not 
contributed to the good name of the French courts. It will be remembered that 
that high-flying captain of big finance disappeared at the very moment when he 
was to surrender to the authorities." 

But all that results from the sentiments prevailing in the public at large and 
from the political system resulting from them. The causes are general and cannot 
be laid at the door of this or that individual. 


guage developed freely like trees in a virgin forest — even in times 
not very long past spelling was still arbitrary in part. There is no 
reason for believing that the situation is, or has been, different with 
other similar products of human activity — with law, morality, reli- 
gion. Indeed, facts in huge numbers constrain us to hold that they 
have developed much as language developed. In remote ages they 
were blended in a single mass, like the words in ancient Greek in- 
scriptions, which were written without spaces between them, such 
contact modifying the last letter of one word and the first letter of 
a following word. The analytical process of separating one word 
from another, so simple in itself, was never carried out for Sanskrit, 
and was not effected for Greek till fairly recent times, traces of the 
original unions surviving even in classical literature.^ So the analyti- 
cal process of separating law, morality, religion, from each other, 
though evidently far advanced in modern civilized countries, has by 
no means been completed, and it has still to be carried out among 
the more backward peoples. Greek inscriptions, as well as the his- 
tory of Graeco-Roman origins, present language, law, morality, re- 
ligion, as a sort of protoplasm from which, by a process of scission, 
parts are sent off to develop as distinct, and finally as separate, en- 

469 ^ Reinach, TraitS d'epigraphie grecque, pp. 237-38, 245: "Spelling, especially 
in private documents beyond the control of the People's secretaries and the Senate, 
is even more individual than the script. It reflects not only the general habits of 
the period, but the caprices or manias of each stone-cutter. . . . The word or- 
thography awakens in us moderns an idea of rules that was long stranger to the 
ancients. For us orthography is a fixed manner of writing words, oftentimes 
regardless of the way they are pronounced. For the ancients down to the Alexan- 
drine era, as for the French down to the sixteenth century, no orthography, prop- 
erly speaking, existed, and words were written much as they were pronounced. 
Writing was a living organism with them. It is a matter of schooling with us. . . . 
Countless examples of the variable spelling of the ancients could be quoted from 
inscriptions. There is an Athenian decree in which the forms £f and eJf, aei and 
ahi, appear just a few lines apart. . . . Curtius has shown from inscriptions that 
the normal state of the more ancient Greek as regarded final consonants was one of 
absolute mobility — the same situation that prevailed down to the end as regarded 
the consonants of prepositions in elision ( a<p' ov ) . Later on a struggle for survival 
developed between the different forms, and the spelling that prevails in the classical 
language was the victor in that competition. " 



tities.^ Studying the facts of the past with the ideas of our own day, 
we give body to abstractions created by ourselves, imagine that we 
find them in the past, and then when we come upon facts at vari- 
ance with our theories, we call them deviations. So in our fancy we 
create a natural law from which positive laws would be deviations, 
and conjugations of regular verbs, from which the conjugations of 
irregular verbs would be deviations. The historical study of law and 
the historical grammar of the national languages have shattered that 
beautiful and well-ordered edifice — yet not to such an extent that it 
cannot still offer cosy refuge to our metaphysical sociologists. It is 
impossible to study history experimentally and not be impressed by 
"Hihe contingent character of law and morality. For a long time the 
grammar and vocabulary of Cicero and Caesar were the Latin gram- 
mar and the Latin vocabulary. Other writers showed deviations — if 
one did not go so far as to call them errors. Italian was the language 
of the "authorities" of the Crusca, and the person who spoke other- 
wise fell into error. At last scholarship has come to realize that there 
is not a Latin grammar, a Latin vocabulary, but many such. If 
Plautus and Tacitus write a Latin different from Cicero, it is some- 
what ridiculous on our part to presume to correct them as if they 
were so many schoolboys who have not done their exercises with 
sufficient care. Even in our parts of the world, where law is crammed 

469 ^ We have another analogy in the fact that scientific philology is a modern 
science unknown for centuries upon centuries even to men of great talent, and 
that it came into being and prospered through use of the experimental method. 
Greek grammar, for example, is much better known to modern scholars than to 
the scholars of ancient Greece. It seems impossible that Aristotle, or whoever it 
was that wrote the Poetica, could have written (20, 8, Fyfe, p. 77): "Since we do 
not ordinarily give a meaning to each part of a compound noun, so in Qeodupo^, 
Jw/3oi' has no meaning." The "critical" edition, obtained by the comparative, the 
experimental, method, is a modern thing — the humanists had no interest in it. 
The fanciful conjecturings of hypercriticism of texts must not be mistaken for 
sciendfic philology. The conjecture, after all, is nothing new. The alterations and 
suppressions to which not a few modern philologists presume to subject ancient 
Greek and Ladn texts are in all respects kindred to the mutiladons to which the 
Homeric poems fell victim at the hands of the Alexandrians. The justifications put 
forward by the moderns are comparable in ingeniousness, and oftentimes in ab- 
surdity, to the ancient. 


into legislation and language into grammatical rules, evolution has 
ceased neither for the one nor for the other, and unity is an abstrac- 
tion of which no trace is to be found in the concrete. 

470. The elements in theories. Carefully observing the matter of 
w^hich theories are constructed, we see that it is of two distinct kinds. 
Theories utilize certain things that fall within objective experience 
and are susceptible of objective observation (§ 13), or which may be 
logically inferred from observation and experience; and then again 
certain other things that overstep objective experience and observa- 
tion — among them such as result from introspection or subjective 
experience (§§94-95). Things of the first kind we elect to call ex- 
perimental entities; things of the second kind, non-experimental en- 
tities (§ 119).^ 

471. Certain entities seem to be experimental but are not, entities 
such as "heat," "cold," "the dry," "the moist," "depth," "height," 
and other similar conceptions of which ancient writers on the nat- 
ural sciences made lavish use. To them may be added the "atoms" of 
Epicurus, "fire," and other such things. The poem of Lucretius may 
seem experimental as a whole; but it is not, for the entities with 
which it deals lie outside the experimental field.^ 

470 ^ As explained in § 6, we use the term "experimental" to designate not 
merely experience but objective experiment and observation. 

471 ^ Davis, The Chinese, Vol. II, pp. 263-64 (1836, pp. 284-85): "The Chinese 
physiologists expressly call man a Seaoutien-ty, a 'litde universe,' or 'microcosm,' 
and they extend to this the same doctrine of the Yin and Yang, or of the dual 
principle . . . maintaining the order and harmony of the natural world. They 
suppose that on a due proportion between these, or between strength and weakness, 
heat and cold, dry and moist, &c., consists the health of the human body; and that 
different degrees of excess or defect produce disease, and ultimately death. There 
is a great pretension to harmony and consistency throughout the whole system of 
physics, which perhaps might be called beautiful, were it only true, and based upon 
something better than empty speculation." Those interesting people are so well 
versed in science that "they do not even know the distinction between arteries 
and veins, and certainly not a syllable of the function of the lungs." They call 
the heart the "husband" and the lungs the "wife." "Without the practice of dis- 
section, it would be singular indeed if they did know much." Of just that char- 
acter were disquisitions on natural science in Western countries not so long ago, 
and such even today are many disquisitions on social "science." 


Condillac well says:' "When philosophers use the words 'being,' 
'substance,' 'essence,' 'genus,' 'species,' we must not imagine that 
they are designating by them certain aggregates of simple ideas de- 
rived from sensation and reflection. They mean to go farther than 
that and see specific realities in each of them. Indeed, if we go into 
greater detail and review the names of the substances 'body,' 'ani- 
mal,' 'man,' 'metal,' 'gold,' 'silver,' and so on, we see that they 
all reveal to the eyes of our philosophers entities that are hidden 
from the rest of mankind. 

"A proof that they regard such words as signs of some reality or 
other is the fact that when a substance has undergone some altera- 
tion they never fail to ask whether it still belongs to the same species 
to which it was referable before the change, a question that would 
become superfluous if they put concepts of substances and concepts 
of their species in different collections of simple ideas. When they 
ask if 'ice' and 'snow' are 'water' ; if a 'foetal monstrosity' is a 'human 
being'; if 'God,' 'spirits,' 'bodies,' and even 'void' are 'substances' 
[All questions that logico-experimental science regards as meaning- 
less, inconclusive, fatuous], it is evident that the question is not 
whether these things are in accord with the simple ideas gathered 
under the terms, 'water,' 'man,' 'substance' [That is a lapse into meta- 
physics. Really such problems are solved only by accords of senti- 
ments.] — such a question would answer itself — ^but whether such 
things contain certain 'essences,' certain realities, which the words 
'water,' 'man,' 'substance,' are supposed to designate." 

Sometimes it is explicitly recognized that such entities are non- 
experimental — that fact, indeed, is taken as investing them with a 
higher majesty. At other times there is an effort to pass them ofF as 
experimental. Then again, there is a wavering between one concep- 
tion and the other, and oftentimes no very clear idea at all regard- 
ing them — the case especially with politicians and other men of 
affairs who use such entities to express their thoughts. All that does 
not affect the manner in which they have to be regarded from the 

471 ^ Essai sur I'origine des connaissanccs humaiues, sec. V, § 7. 


logico-experimental standpoint. However they are defined, and even 
if they are left undefined, they are, and will always remain, foreign | 
to the experimental domain.^ 

\j 472. Between the two kinds of matter just mentioned three 
combinations are possible: I. Experimental entities may be com- 
bined with experimental entities. II. Experimental entities may be 
combined with non-experimental entities. III. Non-experimental en- 
tities may be combined with non-experimental entities. 

473. From the standpoint we are at present taking — the matter 
of accord with experience — it is evident that we can consider only 
combinations of the first variety, for the other two are not suscepti- 
ble of any sort of experimental verification. To settle any dispute a 
judge is necessary (§§ 17, 27), and experience disclaims jurisdiction 
in disputes arising under combinations II and III. 

474. In the treatise commonly entitled De Melisso ^ the following 
proposition is ascribed to a philosopher: "God being everywhere the 
same, He must be spherical." ^ That sets up a relationship between a 
non-experimental entity, God, and an experimental entity, the shape 
of a sphere. There is no experimental criterion for passing judgment 
on such an issue. And yet an apparently experimental reason is of- 
fered to prove that God is spherical: it is said that He is one, that 
He is absolutely similar to Himself, that He sees and hears on all 
sides.^ The author of the De Melisso is not convinced and remarks 
that if everything that is similar to itself throughout has to be spher- 

471 ^ Here, remember, we are considering theories objectively, quite apart from 
the inner thought of the persons who framed them. We are dissociating them 
from their authors and considering them in themselves. 

474 ^ It is attributed to Aristotle, and the philosopher in question is alleged to 
be Xenophanes. Neither assertion seems to be substantiated. The question, how- 
ever, is of no importance to us. We are interested in types of reasoning. We do not 
care whom they belong to. 

474 2 De Melisso, Xenophane, Gorgia, III (Bekker, p. 977b; Diels, p. 20) : 
•KdvTTf 6e bfiotov 6vTa, <j(paipoei6y dvai. Farther along, IV, 6, 7 (Bekker, p. 978; Diel-s, 
p. 27), a similar dictum of Parmenides is noted [and denied: ovSe rbv debv avdyKf) 
elvai 6ia tovto at^aipoeiofj] ; and in the fragments of Parmenides, Carmen, vv. 101-03 
(Karsten, p. 38), one reads: "Since he [God] is perfect to the very extremities 
everywhere, he is like unto the globe of a round sphere, all of which is equidistant 
from its centre." 

474 ^Ibid., IV, 6, 7 (Bekker, p. 978; Diels, p. 27). 


ical, white lead, which is white throughout, should also be spherical. 
And he gives other arguments of the kind. All that very evidently 
overreaches the domain of experience, and if we would keep within 
the experimental field, we can neither endorse nor disavow either 
party in the controversy. Any siding with the one or the other 
would be due to some sentimental inclination on our part and not 
to any experimental consideration. 

475. But we happen on another dispute in the same treatise. Xe- 
nophanes holds that the Earth and the air are infinite in extent, and 
Empedocles denies that.^ The entities here are experimental, and 
experience can pronounce judgment. It has in fact rendered judg- 
ment — in favour of Empedocles. 

476. Now most theories on social matters that have been current 
down to our own time tend to approximate the type of theory that 
is made up of non-experimental entities, but usurps the form and 
appearance of experimental theory. 

477. Taking our stand on formal logic and disregarding validities 
of premise, the strongest position for us is provided by combinations 
of the type III, and the next strongest by combinations of the type 
II. If, in the proposition "A = B" both A and B are non-experi- 
mental entities, the person who would keep strictly to the experi- 
mental field can raise, obviously, no objections of any kind what- 
soever. When St. Thomas asserts that angel speaks to angel, he sets 
up a relation between things about which the person keeping strictly 
to experience can say nothing. The case is the same when the argu- 
ment is elaborated logically and one or more inferences are drawn. 
St. Thomas is not content with his mere assertion; he is eager to 
prove it, and says: "Since one angel can express to another angel 
the concept in his mind, and since the person who has a concept in 
his mind can express it to another at will, it follows that one angel 
may speak to another." ^ Experimental science can find no fault with 
the argument. It lies altogether outside its province. Many meta- 

475 ^Ibid., II (Bekker, p. 976; Diels, p. 16). Cf. Artistotle, De coelo, II, 13, 7 
(Hardie-Gaye, Vol. II, p. 294a). 

477 ^ Summa theologiae, I*, qti. 107, art. 1 {Opera, Vol. V, p. 488: Utriim units 
angehis alteri loquatur). 


physical arguments are of just that type, and many others differ 
from it only in taking over some term from the experimental sphere. 

478. We are given the follovi^ing definition: "All beings capable 
of some degree of activity — or one might simply say all beings, since 
absolute inertia is equivalent to non-being — tend to an end tow^ards 
w^hich all their efforts and all their faculties are directed. That end, 
without vi'hich they would not act — in other words, not exist — ^is 
what is called 'the good.' " ^ So one thing unknown and lying outside 
the experimental field ("the good") is defined by another thing 
even more unknown and likewise lying outside the experimental 
field ("the end"). On such an argument we can have nothing to 
say. For its part, unfortunately, the argument does not stay at home; 
it is soon intruding upon the experimental world, where it neces- 
sarily comes into collision with experimental science. 

479. The first class of combinations comprises all scientific the- 
ories; but it also contains others — exceedingly interesting ones — that 
are pseudo-scientific in character. Pseudo-scientific theories arise 
through the elimination of some non-experimental entity that has 
been used merely to establish certain relations, not otherwise demon- 
strable, between experimental entities. The person, for example, 
who gives the definition of "the good" quoted above, has not the 
remotest intention of remaining in the high and nebulous regions 
whence he takes wing. Sooner or later he intends to return to this 
lowly earth of experience — it is too important, after all, to be en- 
tirely ignored. Similarly, to the assertion that the Scriptures are in- 
spired by God the person who insists on remaining within the limits 
of experience can make no objection. But those who assert divine 
inspiration intend to use it eventually to set up this or that relation 
between experimental entities — to assert, for example, that there are 
no antipodes. Such propositions logico-experimental science has to 
judge intrinsically, without reference to the non-experimental con- 
siderations on which they are based. So again, the metaphysical 
theory of "solidarity" is immune to rebuttal from logico-experi- 
mental science ; but those who invented that non-experimental phan- 

478 ^ Franck, Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques, s.v. Bien. 


torn intend to avail themselves of it to establish relations between 
experimental entities and, specifically, between their pockets and 
their neighbour's money. Such experimental relations and opera- 
tions logico-experimental science must judge intrinsically, disregard- 
ing the fancies and vagaries of the Holy Fathers of the Church of 

480. These particular cases fall under the following general for- 
mula. Let A and B stand for two things lying within the experi- 
mental domain, and X for another thing lying outside that domain. 
A syllogism is drawn with X as the middle term. X eventually dis- 
appears, and just the relation between A and B is left. Experimen- 
tally, neither the major nor the minor premise can be accepted be- 
cause of the term X, which transcends experience ; and therefore the 
relation between A and B cannot be accepted (or rejected) either, 
for it is a relation that is experimental only in appearance. In the 
logic of sentiment (§ 1416), on the other hand, in a reasoning de- 
veloping by accord of sentiments, the syllogism may be as sound as 
sound can be; because, in reality and taking due account all along 
of the indefiniteness of terms in ordinary language, if the sentiments 
aroused by A accord with the sentiments aroused by X, and the 
sentiments aroused by X with the sentiments aroused by B, it will 
follow that on the whole the sentiments aroused by A will accord 
with the sentiments aroused by B. Farther along (§ 514) we are to 
examine this argumentation from the standpoint of its persuasive 
force. Suppose just here we begin by considering it from the experi- 
mental standpoint. 

481. We must be on close guard against two mistakes that may 
be made in inverse directions: (i) the mistake of accepting the rela- 
tion between A and B arising from the elimination of X, on the 
strength of the syllogism, without a strictly experimental verifica- 
tion; (2) if it be experimentally verifiable that the relation between 
A and B exists, the mistake of concluding from that fact that, ac- 
cording to experimental science, X exists; or conversely, if it be 
experimentally ascertained that the alleged relation between A and 


B does not exist, the mistake of concluding that, according to experi- 
mental science, X is non-existent (§§ 487, 516, 1689). 

482. For that matter, our reason for rejecting on experimental 
grounds the relation between A and B arising from the elimination 
of X is in part purely formal; and we may ignore it if the relation- 
ship between A and B has been experimentally established. The test 
of that relationship is, after all, the purpose of the theory. Of what 
importance the means by which it is realized ? 

483. In such a problem we have to keep three researches distinct: 

a. The investigation of whai is — in? other words, the study of real 

b. The investigation of what would happen under certain condi- 
tions — in other words, of virtual movements 

c. The investigation of what ought to be. 

484. a. As for what really is, experience has passed its judgment. 
Reasonings of the type mentioned almost never yield relationships 
that are verifiable on the facts (§ 50). 

485. Let us go back to the matter of the antipodes already alluded 
to (§ 67). Are there people called antipodes on the face of the earth? 
Good sense and prudence ought to have counselled people to leave 
the task of solving that problem to experience. St. Augustine chooses 
to solve it a priori — and, after all, his reasoning is no worse than 
many others that are accepted in our time, since it has, if nothing 
else, the merit of being intelligible. The Saint says:^ "There is no 
reason for believing that, as some fancy, there are Antipodes, that 
is to say, people on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun 
rises when it sets on our side, people who tread with their feet that 
part of the earth which is opposite to the soles of our feet." There is 
no historical proof of the fact, the Saint continues. The part of the 
earth opposite to ours may be covered with water, and therefore be 
uninhabited. But then, even if it is not covered with water, "it is not 
at all necessary that it be inhabited. For Holy Writ makes no men- 
tion of such a thing and Scripture justifies its accounts through the 
fact that, in the past, things that it predicted have come to pass. And 

485 1 De civitate Dei, XVI, 9. 


it is moreover exceedingly absurd to say that some men could 
have sailed across the vast Ocean, gone from this part to that part 
of the earth, and founded a new branch of the human race." The 
argument is v^^ell knit and, if one w^ill, even sound; but unfortu- 
nately it is at w^ar with the facts; nor have the many similar argu- 
ments designed to prove that there were and could be no antipodes 
enjoyed a better fate. 

486. Lactantius Firmianus says : "Can anyone possibly be so stupid 
as to believe that there are men who walk with their feet up 
and their heads down? Or that there [at the antipodes] all that 
which with us lies on the ground is upside down? That crops and 
trees grow downward ? That rain, snow, and hail fall upward to the 
earth?" ^ The error here may be of theological origin, but it is meta- 
physical in form at least. Lactantius reasons like a Hegelian. He 

486 } Divinae institutiones. III, De falsa sapientia, 24, i and 7-9, lo-ii {Opera, 
Vol. I, pp. 254-56; Fletcher, Vol. I, pp. 196-97) : "Quid illi qui esse contrarios ves- 
tigiis nostris antipodas pittant? Num aliqitid loqmintiir? Aut est qiiisquam tatm 
ineptus qui credat esse homines quorum vestigia sint superiora quant capita? Aut 
ibi quae apud nos iacent inversa pendere? Fruges et arbores deorsum versus cres- 
cere? Plttvias et nives et gratidines sursum versus cadere in terram?" Lactantius re- 
plies to the "philosophers" the way our Hegelians answer the physicists. He says 
that from the movement of the sun and the moon the "philosophers" have con- 
cluded that the sky was round: "From this roundness of the heavens it would fol- 
low that the earth was contained in the centre of its interior; and if that were so, 
the earth itself would be globe-shaped; for nothing embraced by a round globe 
could help being round itself. But if the earth were round it would have to offer 
the same face [i.e., the same sort of surface] to all parts of the sky, raising moun- 
tains, that is [/.(?., in the nether hemisphere as well as in the upper], spreading out 
its plains and its flat seas. And if that were so, this extreme consequence would also 
follow, that there would be no part of the earth which is not inhabited by men and 
other animals. So the roundness of the heavens [i.e., the theory that the universe is 
a globe] would leave the Antipodes hanging head downward. And if you ask the 
people who sustain such marvels why everything does not fall into the nether part 
of the heavens, they answer that, in the nature of things, heavy things are carried 
towards the centre and are connected with the centre like spokes in a wheel, 
whereas light things, such as clouds, smoke, or fire, are repelled from the centre so 
that they rise towards the sky. What I am to say to that I am sure I do not know, 
unless it be that having uttered one foolish thing, they have to go on and defend 
it with another." That sounds like Hegel taking Newton to task! Lactantius, good 
soul, concludes: "I could prove with many arguments that it is in no way possible 
for the sky to be lower than the earth [Still the Hegelian method of arguing from 
concepts — here the concept "lower."], were it not time for this book to come to a 
close." A great pity! What we have missed! 


finds, and everybody will find widi him, that the concepts of "high," 
"low," "upwards," "downwards" (as known in our hemisphere), 
are incompatible with the existence of antipodes. He is right, in fact : 
it is ridiculous to imagine people walking with their heads down 
and their feet up. However, if a person reasons not on concepts but 
on things, and considers names merely as labels serving to keep track 
of things (§ 119), he readily sees that when we move or^ to the part 
of the earth opposite to ours we have to shuffle our labels about, 
exchanging the tag "upward" for the tag "downward." Then belief 
in antipodes ceases to be ridiculous. Though errors such as Lactan- 
tius made have vanished, or all but vanished, from the natural sci- 
ences, they are still very common in the social sciences, where many 
people continue reasoning in that fashion. Anyone not afraid lest 
his conclusions stand in a similar relation to the facts may go on 
reasoning like Lactantius or the Hegelians. If he would, as far as his 
ability will allow, have his conclusions stand to the facts in the rela- 
tions observable in the physical sciences, he must try to reason after 
the manner now customary in those sciences (§§5, 69, 71). 

487. Many have turned, and many, I believe, are still turning, the 
errors of the Fathers with regard to the antipodes to the discredit of 
Christianity, or, at least, of Catholicism. Bui really religion is in no 
wise responsible for such errors, and sufficient proof of that is the 
fact that many pagans also gave the earth a form other than spher- 
ical and ridiculed believers in antipodes.^ Lucretius, the atheist, rea- 
sons no better than Lactantius. He deems absurd the view that the 
earth holds together because all bodies tend toward the centre. "Can 
you believe," he says, "that bodies can hold themselves up all by 
themselves, that the heavy bodies under the earth all tend upward 
and then stick to the opposite part of the earth upside down, like 
the reflections we see on our side in water ? On similar grounds it is 

487 ^Plutarch, De placitis philosophontm, III, 10 (Goodwin, Vol. Ill, p. 155). 
Idem, De facie quae in orbe limae apparet, 7, 2 (Goodwin, Vol. V, p. 243): "We 
must not heed pliilosophers when they try to refute paradox with paradox. . . . 
And what absurdities do they not put forward? Do they not say that the Earth is 
spherical, tipugh it has such great cavities, heights, inequalities ? That it is inhab- 
ited by Antipodians, who crawl like worms and lizards, upside down?" 


maintained that animals go about head downwards, and that they 
cannot fall from the Earth into the nether spaces of the heavens any 
more than our bodies can rise to the higher regions of the sky."^ 

488. The best that can be said is that a strong faith of whatever 
kind, be it religious or metaphysical, saves a person from the prudent 
scepticism of the experimental sciences through the pride one takes 
in knowing the absolute. But that is an indirect cause of error. The 
direct lies in trying to reason on concepts rather than on facts, and 
in using introspection instead of objective observation.^ 

489. Amusing indeed is Cosmas Indicopleustes. His second pro- 
logue is entitled "Christian Topography, Embracing the Whole Uni- 
verse, and Proved from Holy Writ, wherewith Christians Must Not 
Disagree." ^ First he takes a fling at "those who though Christians 
believe and teach with the pagans that the sky is spherical." He has 
proofs, excellent in truth, that the Earth is not spherical. "Consider- 
ing its incalculable weight how can the Earth hang suspended in 
the air and not fall?"^ Whereas from Scripture we learn that the 
world has the shape of an oven and that the earth is quadrangular. 
The tabernacle built by Moses is the image of the world. Needless 
to say, the existence of antipodes is a ridiculous myth; and to show 
just how ridiculous it is, Cosmas gives a drawing in which very large 
men are shown standing feet to feet on opposite sides of a very small 
globe, 131 D (Migne, p. 130; Winstedt, ps 92): "As for antipodes. 
Scripture does not permit us to utter or heed such nonsense. For it 
says [Acts 17:26]: 'and hath made of one blood all nations of men 
for to dwell on all the face of the earth.' ... It does not say on all 
the faces, but on the face." And other arguments just as decisive 

487 2 De reru7n natura, I, vv. 1056-63. Lucretius, however, has one thing in his 
favour: he did not dream of persecuting those who differed with him. 

488 1 Here, as elsewhere, we contrast concepts with facts, the subjective with the 
objective, not in any metaphysical sense, but in an experimental sense, as explained 
in §§94-95. 

4Sg ^ Topograp/iia C/iristiana, Prologue B (Migne, p. 58; Winstedt, p. 41): 
XpiariaviK^ TOTToypacpia TrepuKTiKf/ -rvavrbg tov Kdafiov, aTrodel^eig ixovGa ek t^q deiag Tpa- 
<p^C, T^epl ijc afx<piG[i7jr£7v Xpiariavovg oh Seov. 

489 '^ Ibid., 65A (Migne, p. 66; Winstedt, p. 46): to. rooavra cifirfitira ^apTj TfjQyriq, 
TToif dwarov vno aepa xP^/J-^c^Oai nai 'iarcaOai, koI firj KaTaniTTTeiv; 


490. Even writers who are otherwise keen enough have theories 
no better when they set to reasoning metaphysically. Aristotle dem- 
onstrates at length in his De coelo that the movement of the heavens 
has to be circular. He begins by asserting that every movement in 
space must be either rectilinear, or circular, or else a combination of 
the two (I, 2, 2; Hardie-Gaye, Vol. II, 268 b). He follows with an- 
other declaration: that only rectilinear and circular movements are 
simple. Then he says, I, 2, 4: "I call those bodies simple which have 
in themselves naturally the principle of motion, such as fire, earth, 
and the like." ^ That is a definition, and no objection could be made 
to it if it were clear. Unfortunately it is not, and that is a defect com- 
mon to all the definitions of the metaphysicists, since these inevitably 
contain terms that correspond to nothing real. "Have in themselves 
naturally the principle of motion!" What on earth can that mean.!^ 
Nothing whatever! It is a verbiage that acts solely upon a reader's 

491. Those meaningless assertions and definitions eventually serve 
for reasonings that are professedly exact, I, 2, 5 (Hardie-Gaye, Vol. 
II, p. 269a) : "So then, since there is a simple motion, and circular 
motion is cimple ; and since a simple body has a simple motion, and a 
simple motion belongs to a simple body (if it were compound it 
would move according to its preponderant constituent), there must 
be a simple body which by nature moves in a circle." That dazzling 
argument is reinforced by the following, I, 2, 9: "This motion, 
therefore, must necessarily be the first. The perfect by nature pre- 
cedes the imperfect. Now the circle is perfect, whereas the straight 
line is not. . . . Hence if the primary motion is of that body which 
is first in nature, and if circular motion is superior to the rectilinear, 
which is proper to simple bodies (for fire rises in a straight line, and 
terrestrial bodies fall towards the centre), circular motion must 
necessarily belong to a simple body." ^ Obviously, there is nothing 

490 ^ Tieyu 6' an'ka oca Kivyaeug apxyv ex£i Kara (phaiv, olov Tvvp koI yyv kol to, tovtuv 
e16i] Kal TO, cfvyyevy rovTocg. 

491 ■*■ 'A?./.a fi7)v Koi TtpioTTjv ys avayKoiov elvai ryv TomvT9}v <popav. To yap teIeiov Tzpd- 
TEpov tT] (pvCEi Tov ar£?Mvgy 6 Se KiKkog riov T£?.ei(jv, EvdE'ta Se ypa/n/xy ov6E/j.ta. Tt/le«of, 
"perfect," in Greek has two meanings: "finished," "complete," and also "with- 


experimental about this argument. Its whole force lies in sentiments 
that are aroused by suitably chosen terms, and it persuades because 
those sentiments are in apparent accord with one another, or at least 
do not stand in overt conflict. Following that course one may find 
anything one wishes, just as one can look at the clouds in the sky and 
make out the shapes of any sort of animal. So Plato considers the 
circle and the sphere "divine." And why not? He is at liberty to 
call them "divine," just as a schoolboy baffled by the problems of M 
spherical trigonometry is at liberty to call them "hellish." Such are 
mere expressions of sentiment, with no relation whatsoever to any / / 
objective reality.^ 

out fault," "the best possible." Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea, V, I, 15 (Rack- 
ham, p. 259), uses the word in the latter sense to designate a virtue that is the 
"highest" "most exalted": reXeia aper^. This ambiguity in the meaning of teIeloq 
helps to conceal the inanity of the argument in the De coelo. The circular move- 
ment is "finished" (complete) because it returns upon itself, because it can go on 
indefinitely on the same curve; and when in that way the adjective tD.eio^ has 
gained acceptance, it follows, by virtue of the double sense, that circular motion is 
better than any other motion (§§ 1556 f.). 

There is still another play on ambiguity in De coelo, II, 4, 2 (Hardie-Gaye, Vol. 
II, p. 286b-87). There the reasoning on the "perfect" circle is repeated. The circle 
is said to be perfect as compared with the straight line because sometliing can be 
added to the straight line, nothing to the circle. Then Aristotle goes on: "Therefore 
if the perfect is anterior to the imperfect, for that reason too the circle is first among 
figures." This argument is as valid for any closed curve as for the circle. So Aris- 
tode says, De generatione et corruptione , II, 10, 8 (Joachim, p. 337a) : "When air 
comes from water, and fire from water, and, again water from fire, we say that the 
process takes place in a circle, since it comes back upon itself." If the passage in the 
De coelo were to be interpreted in that sense, the contrast in the passage would be 
between a movement that returns upon itself and a movement extending indefi- 
nitely along an unclosed line. But that is in no wise the case: a geometric circle, no 
more, no less, is in question, for in II, 4, 6 Aristotle bars not only irregular poly- 
gons, but any curved figures where the radii are not all of equal length, such as 
egg-shaped or lens-shaped figures. It is therefore evident that the phrase "circular 
motion" has now one sense, now another; at one time it is just modon along a 
closed curve, at another, motion around a geometric circle. 

491 ^ Plato, however, is speaking of circle and sphere as such. He lays down that 
some sciences are truer than others. He takes the case of a man who has a true 
knowledge of jusdce, and then tries to show how that knowledge mingles with 
other knowledge less perfect. Philebus, 62A: "Will such a man be sufHciendy wise 
if he knows the nature {Uyov) of the divine circle and sphere ( . . . k'vuXov fiev koI 
of^aipaq avTijq rijg deiaq tov 7.6yov £;\;wv) and does not know the nature {76-, or) of the 
human circle and sphere?" 


492. Aristotle, De coelo, II, 13, 19 (Hardie-Gaye, Vol. II, p. 295b), 
explains how the immobility of the Earth used to be demonstrated 
according to Anaximander: There is no reason why a body placed 
in the centre and equidistant from the extremities should be moved 
upward rather than downward or obliquely; and since it is impos- 
sible for a body to move in opposite directions at one time, it must 
necessarily remain motionless. And here are words of one of the 
greatest scientists of our modern times: "A body at rest cannot set 
itself in motion, since it has within itself no reason for moving in 
one direction rather than in another. . . . The direction of recti- 
linear movement evidently follows from the lack of any reason why 
the body should move to the right rather than to the left of its orig- 
inal direction." ^ 

Anaximander's proposition is contradicted by experience; the 
propositions of Laplace are confirmed by experience. In both cases 
the demonstrations are without the slightest value. 

493. The argument is framed on the following model : "Anything 
that to me and other men seems impossible will certainly not hap- 
pen. I see no reason why A should be B. Therefore A cannot be B." 
That is the usual introspective syllogism (§§43, 69, iii, 434). 

494. The fallacy in the argument is less evident because what 
ought to be stated in subjective form is stated in objective form. 
Laplace said: "There is no reason why the body should move to the 
right rather than to the left." Had he chosen to state his thought 
exactly, he would have said: ". . . it seems to me that there is no 
reason why . . ." But in that form the fallacious character of the 
proof would have been more strikingly apparent. Laplace might 
have replied that he did not use the revised form because the thing 
seems as it seems not to him only, but to all men. Another of the 
great sources of error in such reasonings! It simply is not true that 
things seem to all men as they seem to him. Most men have never 

492 ^ Laplace, Traite de mecanique celeste. Vol. I, p. 14: "Un point en repos ne 
pent se donner aucun mouvement, puisqti'il ne renferme pas en lui-meme de raison 
pour se mouvoir dans un sens plutot que dans un autre. . . . La direction du 
mouvement en ligne droite suit cvidemment de ce qu'il n'y a aucune raison pour 
que ce point s'ecarte plutot a droite qu'a gauche de sa direction primitive." 


given a thought to the subject! But never mind that. Even if they 
had, the universal consensus of mankind would not enhance the 
value of the proposition by a jot and w^ould have no powder to make 
a thing that is subjective objective (§502). 

495. As usual, reasonings of this type are lacking in any exact- 
ness — a fact we have often had occasion to stress and shall continue 
stressing. What can it mean to say that a body "has within itself 
no reason for moving in one direction rather than in another" ? And 
how can we know whether really it has no such reason within itself? 
In no other way than by observing whether it remains at rest. The 
Laplace proposition therefore amounts to saying that a body is at 
rest when it is at rest — a thing as true as it is useless to know. 

496. To say that "force" is the "cause" of motion is to think one 
is saying something and to say nothing — to define an unknown by 
an unknown.^ What would this thing called the cause of the move- 
ment be ? It is difficult to imagine any other reply than that the cause 
is a force ; so that the proposition comes down to saying that a force 
is a force. A ban has been laid on such methods of reasoning in the 
science of modern mechanics." In these volumes we were trying to 
follow that good example for sociology. 

497. "Natural," "violent," "voluntary" movements play an im- 
portant part in ancient philosophy. To see how much nonsense can 
be emitted on such matters, one has only to read the tenth book of 
Plato's Laws. Aristotle, too, unfortunately allowed himself to be 

496 ^ Poisson, Traite de mecanique. Vol. I, p. 2: "In general the term 'force' is 
applied to any cause of motion in a body." Physicists eventually became aware of 
the inanity of such a definition. Barre de Saint-Venant, Principes de mecanique 
jondes siir la cinematique , p. 65: "From our stricdy practical point of view, we do 
not stop to consider whether 'mass' has any bearing on the quantities of matter in 
the various heterogeneous bodies . . . nor whether 'force' has any bearing on the 
efficient-causes of movement in such bodies." 

496 ^ Picard, La mecanique classique et ses approxitnations successives, p. 6: "In 
the study of constant fields, force has been successively defined in two different 
ways, first by static measures, then from a dynamic standpoint, in terms of the 
accelerations corresponding to the fields. No relation between these two evaluations 
was a priori necessary, and we must regard it as an experimental result that the 
numbers representing forces considered from the dynamic and from the static 
standpoint are proportional." This last remark should be pondered with the great- 
est care. The conception it voices is fundamental to science. 


lured into similar lucubrations, and so was in a position to be used 
against Galileo when the latter was laying the foundations of ex- 
perimental physics. In that science the work of Galileo already be- 
longs to a historic past. An achievement as significant is as yet barely 
on the horizon for sociology, even in our day. 

498. Cicero puts into the mouth of Balbus an argument to prove 
that the stars move of their own volition. According to Aristotle, 
says Balbus, everything that moves is moved either by nature, or by 
force, or by choice. How then do the Sun, Moon, and stars move? 
"Whatever is moved of nature is borne either downward by its 
weight or upward by its lightness. No one of those things is the case 
with the stars, since they move in circular orbits. Nor can it be said 
that the stars are moved against nature by a greater force, for what 
force could be greater? It results, therefore, that the motion of the 
stars is voluntary." ^ 

499. Theories of that kind are evolved in great numbers when 
thinking is based on concepts and words rather than on facts.^ And 
when the error becomes manifest, when it can no longer be deco- 
rously denied, instead of abandoning the method of reasoning that 
led to it, people obstinately try to preserve it and merely seek ways 
of adapting it to the data of experience. 

500. If experience has in advance established a relation between 
two experimental facts A and B, the theological or metaphysical 
thinker rearranges his words in such a way as to picture that rela- 
tionship as closely as possible. But, unfortunately, if a person is in 
the habit of thinking in theological and metaphysical terms, he does 
not readily adapt himself to the exactness of scientific reasoning, 
with the result that the experimental relation existing between A 
and B is not reproduced as closely as is desired, and very often is 
grossly distorted. 

501. Long protracted in science was the reign of the notion that 

498 ^ D<? natttra dcoriim, II, 16, 44: "Quae atttem natura moverentiir, haec ant 
pondere deorsum aiit levitate in sublime ferri: quorum neutrum astris contingeret 
propterea quod eorum lyiotus in orbem circumque ferretur. Nee vero dici potest vi 
quadam majore fieri ut contra naturam astra moveantur: quae enim potest maior 
esse? Restat igitur ut motus astrorum sit volontarius." 

499 1 The matter will be dealt with at length in Chapter IX. 



celestial bodies, being perfect, had to move in circles. It finally came 
to be recognized that that idea was false, or better, nonsensical ; and 
the discovery w^as made by a method altogether different from Aris- 
totle's — by the empirical observations of Kepler. 

502. Now that metaphysicists know — or think they know — that 
planets move in ellipses with the Sun at one of the foci (§69^), 
they do their best to arrive by their methods of reasoning at that 
conclusion, which is — or rather, which they imagine has been — 
established by experience.^ 

Says Hegel: "A circle is the curve the radii of which are all equal 
— that is to say, it is completely determined by the radius. It is a 
unity that can be added to itself, and therein lies its whole deter- 
minability. But in free motion, where the determinations of time 
and space are differentiated and a qualitative ratio is established be- 
tween them, that same ratio has to be introduced into space as a 
differential producing two determinations in it. Consequently the 
essential form of planetary revolution is the ellipse." ^ 

503. Hegel's demonstration, Ibid., § 270, of Kepler's third law is 
wonderful indeed: "As root, time is only an empirical magnitude. 
As quality, it is nothing but an abstract unity.^ As an aspect of the 
developed totality, it is, in addition, a determined unity, a reflected 

502 ^ For the statement to be true, the motions of the planets have to be referred 
to a sun that is assumed to be stationary, at the same time assuming that the masses 
of the planets as compared with the Sun's, as well as the reciprocal attractions of 
the planets, may be ignored. 

502 ~ Nattirphilosophie, Pt. I, Chap. Ill, §270 (p. 130). [As a check on Vera's 
exceedingly free and at times inaccurate translation Hegel's original is prefixed to 
Pareto's note. — A. L.] : "Der Kreis ist die in sich ziiri'icWehrende Linie, in der alle 
Radien gleich sind: d.h. er ist durch den Radius voll}{07nmen bestimmt; es tst diess 
ntir Eine, und zwar die ganze Bestimmt/ieit. In der freien Bewegttng aber, wo 
rdumliche und zeitliche Bestimmungen in Verschiedenheit, in ein qualitatives Ver- 
haltniss zti einander treten, tritt nothwendig diess Verhaltniss an de?7i Rdtimlichen 
selbst als eine Differenz desselben hervor, welche hiermit zwei Bestimmungen er- 
fordert. Dadurch wird die Gestalt der in sich zuriic\gehenden Bahn wesentlich eine 
Ellipse; — das erste der Kepplerischen Gesetze." Vera is a Hegelian of great repute. 
He must have understood what his master meant in the passage quoted. I transcribe 
below certain of the notes that he appended to his translation of Hegel; they add 
light to a text that is already clarity itself. 

503 ^ Hegel: "eine bloss empirische Crosse, und als qualitativ nur eine abstra/{te 
Einheit." Vera, Vol. I, pp. 296-97: "It appears in that form in the fall {chute — the 
completed act of falling)." 


totality.^ It produces itself, and in producing itself it does not tran- 
scend itself.^ But as it has no dimensions, in producing itself it at- 
tains only to formal identity with itself, to the square; and space, on 
the contrary, which constitutes the positive principle of external con- 
tinuity,* attains to the dimensions of the concept, to the cube. Thus 
their primitive difference subsists in their realization. That is Kep- 
ler's third law concerning the ratio of the cube of the distance to 
the square of the time." Indeed! Who would ever have thought it! 
What a prodigious mind to understand all that ! ^ 

503 ^ Hegel, "jiir sich." Vera: "'In itself: here, that is, 'complete.'" Alas, the 
very interesting things called "reflected totality, in itself complete" are still unknown 
to us! 

503 ^ Hegel: "prodticirt sich, und bezieht sich darin aiif sich selbst." Vera: "The 
square, that is." 

503 * Hegel: "als das positive Aussereinander." Vera: "As continuing positive ex- 

503 ^Hegel's German: "Als Wtirzel ist die Zeit eine bloss empirische Grosse, 
und als qualitativ nur abstracte Einheit. Als Moment der entwic\elten Totalitdt 
aber ist sie zugleich an ihr bestimmte Einheit, Totalitdt fiir sich, produciert sich 
und bezieht sich darin auf sich selbst; als das in sich Dimensionslose \ommt ste in 
ihrer Production nur ztir jormellen Identitdt mit sich, dem Quadrate: der Raum 
dagegen, als das positive Aussereinander, zur Dimension des Begriffs, dem Cubus. 
Ihre Realisirung behdlt so den urspri'mglichen Unterschied derselben zugleich bei. 
Diess ist das dritte Kepplerische Gesetz, das Verhdltniss des Wiirfels der Entfernun- 
gen zu den Quadraten der Zeiten." 

The most remarkable of Vera's notes. Vol. I, p. 297, relates to a sentence of Hegel 
immediately following the passage quoted in his translation: "... a law that is 
profound merely because it is so simple and expresses the intimate nature of the 
thing." [Hegel's original: ". . . ein Gesetz, das darum so gross ist, weil es so ein- 
fach und mittelbar die Vernunft der Sache darstellt."] It is too long to quote endre. 
This titbit will suffice, however — Vol. I, p. 297: "Now by the very fact that the fall 
{chute) is only an aspect {moment) of finished mechanics, dme, space, and matter 
are present in it only in an abstract and incomplete manner: in other words, all the 
elements constituting them are not present in it in their fully developed form, their 
unity. Time figures only as a root, space as a square, and as a purely formal square." 
My heart-felt sympathy for that poor "fall" in which dme figures only as a "root." 
I do not deny that this manner of stringing words together haphazard may lead 
to some "simple" and "profound" law that "expresses the intimate nature of the 
thing," for I have no idea of what such an estimable nature may be. But in the 
present volumes on sociology I am not looking for any such "indmate nature," and 
I therefore try, as best I know how and can, to keep clear of disquisitions of that 
kind (§ 20). The day may come when sociologies to be written in the future will 
stand in the same relation to those now in vogue as the celestial mechanics of 
Gauss stands to Plato's ramblings or the vagaries of the astrologers. 



504. But there is better yet! What is a diamond? "The diamond 
is the typical crystal, that product of the earth at sight of which the 
eye rejoices because it sees in it the first-born of light and weight. 
Light is abstract and completely free identity. Air is the identity of 
the elements. The subordinated identity^ is an identity passive to 
light, and that is the transparency of the diamond [read, crystal]." ^ 
Having understood the transparency of the diamond, you might 
now consider metal: "Metal, on the other hand, is opaque, because 
in metal individual identity is concentrated into a more profound 
unity by a high specific gravity." ^ 

505. A reminiscence of that exalted and luminous thinking is 
doubtless to be seen in the following passage from a philosopher of 
our day.^ "What is the movement of a body through space.? It is 
mechanics realizing itself. What is the formation of a crystal in the 
bosom of the earth ? It is geometry making itself visible to the eye." 
Similar reasonings are current among all metaphysicists regardless 
of their country of origin. The Chinese had long since observed the 
influence of the Moon on the tides and given an explanation of it 
worthy of a Hegel. ^ 

504 ^ Hegel: "imterworfene"; Vera, Vol. II, p. 21: "'Subjugated,' 'subdued,' as 
contrasted with the individual identity {individuelle Selbst) of metal, which is not 
passive to light." 

504 ^Ibid., §317 (p. 306): "Der Ur]{iy stall ist der Diamant der Erde dessen 
jedes Aiige sich erjreut, ihn ah den erstgebornen Sohn des Lichts und der Schwere 
anerl{ennend. Das Licht ist die abstracte, voUhfimmen jreie Identitdt, — die Luft die 
elementarische; die unterworfene Identitat ist die Passivitdt jtir das Licht, und das ist 
die Durchsichtigkeit des Krystalls. Das Metall ist dagegen tindurchsichtig, wed in 
ihm das individuelle Selbst durch hohe specifische Schwere ziim Filrsichsein con- 
centriert ist." 

504 - The density of the diamond is about 3.5. Certain crystals have the follow- 
ing densities: glass, 3.3; various flints, from 3.6 to 4.3. Aluminium, however, has 
(melted) a density of 2.56. Following Hegel's system, therefore, aluminium ought 
to be more transparent than diamond or glass. It is the hard luck of the metaphysi- 
cists that the contrary happens to be true. But they are never terrified by such dis- 
asters and always find ways to reconcile the yes and the no. Their repeated errors 
and absurd theories have so discredited them in the physical sciences that no one 
takes them seriously any longer; but they continue to swagger about in the litera- 
ture improperly denominated social science. 

505 ^ Fouillee, Critique des systemes de morale contemporains, p. 22. 

505 2 Davis, The Chinese, Vol. II, p. 283 (1836, p. 307): "M. Klaproth remarked, 
that in an encyclopaedia, written before the close of the ninth century, it is said 


506. St. Thomas also knows how some bodies come to be opaque 
and others transparent : ^ "For light being a quality of the first alter- 
ant, which is the most perfect and formal in bodies, those bodies 
which are in the highest degree formal and mobile are lucid in act; 
those that are most like them, such as transparent bodies, receive 
light; and those that are most material neither have light in their 
nature nor receive light, but are opaque. This is manifest in the ele- 
ments, for fire has light in its nature, but its light is visible only in 
extraneous matter, because of its subtlety. Air and water are less 
formal than fire and are therefore merely transparent. But the Earth, 
which is in the highest degree material, is opaque." The Angelic 
Doctor was a great saint, but not a great physicist.^ 

The terms "just," "equitable," "moral," "human," "socially- 
minded" (solidal), and the like, which are today current in the 
social sciences, are of the same character as the terms "hot" (§ 871), 
"cold," "heavy," "light," and so on, which were formerly used in 
the natural sciences. They often lead astray and give the impression 
that an altogether fantastic argument is of an experimental char- 
acter (§§965, 1551). 

507. It is a curious thing that in examining the theories of his 
predecessors, Aristotle was aware of the source of their errors : ^ "The 

that 'the Moon, being the purest principle of water, influences the tides.' " Hegel, 
Op. cit., § 279 (p. 177): "The Moon is a waterless crystal striving to complete itself, 
to quench the thirst of its rigidity in our oceans, so producing the tides. The sea 
swells upward and is on the point, as it were, of leaping toward the Moon, and the 
Moon in its turn seems eager to take possession of the sea." Metaphysical sociologists 
write on social questions today in just such terms. Hegel's German: "Der Mond ist 
der wasserlose Kristall, der sicli an unserem Mcere gleichsam zu integriren, den 
Durst seiner Starrheit zu loschcn sucht, und daher Ebbe und Fhtth hewir\t. Das 
Meer erhbht sich, steht im Begriff, ziim Monde zu fiiehen, und der Mond, es an 
sich zu reissen." 

506 ^ De natura lujninis {Opusctda, 51, Opera, 1570, Vol. XVII-2, p. 36, iB). 

506 ^ And yet he had begun with an acute remark, noting that ordinary language 
is misleading as to the nature of light: "Some have said that light is corporeal, led 
into that error by certain locutions that people use in speaking of light. We ordi- 
narily say that a ray of light darts through the air, that rays of light are reflected, 
that rays of light intersect — all such things being apparently corporeal." 

507 -^ De generatione et corruptione , I, 2, 10 (Joachim, p. 316a). 


cause of their seeing the things that we know ^ less clearly [than 
we do] was their lack of experience; for people who have spent 
their lives observing nature are best qualified to make hypotheses as 
to the principles that bring great numbers of facts together." Had 
Aristotle remained faithful to the principle he stated so well, he 
might have hastened the progress of humanity in science by many 

508. Bacon's case is even more curious. It has been frequently re- 
marked that he thought soundly enough on the experimental 
method, but then practised it badly. Here, for example, is one of his 
admonitions:^ "There is nothing sound about our notions whether 
in logic or physic. 'Substance,' 'quality,' 'action,' 'passivity' [Devey: 
"passion"], 'essence' [Devey: "existence"], are not sound [Devey: 
"clear"] notions: and much less 'weight,' 'levity,' 'density,' 'rarity' 
[Devey: "tenuity"], 'moistness,' 'dryness,' 'generation,' 'corruption,' 
'attraction,' 'repulsion,' 'element,' 'matter,' 'form,' and the like. 
All are fantastical and indeterminate." But later on, (II, 5), 
he considers bodies "as a 'throng' {turmd) or 'conjugation' 
of 'simple natures'";^ and it does not occur to him that such 
"simple natures" are among the "notions" that he disavows. 

509. In these pseudo-experimental arguments the terms A, B . . . 
which are brought into some relation or other, are usually indeter- 
minate. We have noted ambiguities in Aristotle (§491). They are 
nothing as compared with the absolute indefiniteness of the terms 
used by some metaphysicists (§963). 

510. Says Hegel: "In general one cannot deny the influence of 
comets. I set Mr. Bode shrieking some time ago by remarking that 
experience now proves that comets are attended by a good vintage, as 
happened in the years 1811 and 1819, and that that twin observation 

507 ^ Ta 6/io?io-yoi'fiEva : literally, "things on which we are agreed" [Joachim: 
"admitted facts"]. 

508 ^ Novum Organum, I, 15. 

508 2 "The rule or axiom for the transformation of bodies is of two kinds. The 
first regards a body as a throng {tiinnam) or union {coniitgationem) [Devey: "ag- 
gregate or combination"] of simple natures; as, for example, in gold, the following 
properties [Devey: "circumstances"] arc combined: yellowness, heaviness . . ." 


is worth as much as the observations of the returns or comets, and 
even more." ^ Here he is stating a false proposition and betraying 
gross ignorance of astronomy by assuming that the uniformity in the 
"returns" of comets is a matter of merely empirical observation ; but 
at least he uses clear and exact terms that correspond to concrete 
things. That, in fact, is why we see so readily that his proposition is 
false. But the clearness fades when he adds: "What makes cometary 
wine so good is the fact that the aqueous process abandons the earth, 
and so brings on a change in the state of the planet." ^ "What in all 
creation is that "aqueous process" which "abandons" our earth .^ 
Who has ever seen or heard of it ? 

511. The vagueness and absurdity are far greater in what Hegel 
says of the Moon and the tides (§ 505 "). In strict fact, we know what 
he means by "crystal," "water," "thirst," "rigidity." It is his manner 
of combining them that makes them hard to understand. But even 
that glimmer of comprehensibility vanishes when Hegel says, § 279 
(p. 177): "Light is simple thought itself, existing under form of 
nature. It is understanding in nature, or — what amounts to the same 
thing — the form of understanding present in nature." ^ Or again, 
§ 277 (p. 168) : "Light as constituting universal physical identity is 
first positable as a differentiated term and consequently as forming 
here a distinct and external principle in matter qualified according 
to another determination of the notion that constitutes the negation 
of light, namely, darkness." ^ 

510 ^ Naturphilosophie. § 279 (pp. 179-80) : "Einflilsse der Kometen sind durchaus 
nicht zu verneinen. Henn Bode habe ich einmal zum Seufzen gebracht, weil ich 
gesagt, die Erjahrung zeige jetzt, dass aiif Kometen gute Weinjahre folgen, me in 
den Ja/iren 181 1 und 18 ig, iind diese doppelte Erjahrung sey eben so gut, ja besser, 
ah die i'lber die Wieder\ehr der Kometen." 

510 ^ 180: "Was den Kometen-W ein so gut macht, ist, dass der Wasserprocess 
sic/i von der Erde losreisst, und so einen veranderten Zustand des Planeten hervor- 

511 "^"Es \_das Licht~\ ist der einjache Gedan\e selbst, auf natihiiche Weise vor- 
handen. Denn es ist Verstand in der Natur; d.h. die Formen des Verstandes 
existieren in ihr." Vera comments. Vol. I, pp. 378-79: "Understanding, rather than 
speculative reason, is predominant in light, precisely because light is an abstract 

511 ^"Das Licht verhdlt sich als die allgemeine physicalische Identitat zunachst 
als ein Verschiedenes (§ 275), daher liier Aeusseres und Anderes, zu der in den 


512. If all such verbiage were nothing but a reflection of the 
psychic state of given individuals, there would be no more occasion 
for bothering with it than with the ravings of a lunatic. But it has 
been admired by many people, and its equivalents in the social sci- 
ences continue to enjoy great prestige. For that reason they deserve 
consideration as a social phenomenon of great importance (§965). 

513. The psychic state of people who imagine they understand 
arguments of that kind is not so very different from the psychic 
state of the people who thought they understood the abstractions of 
the old mythology and theology. In that we get 

another proof of the fact that evolution does 
not take place along a continuous line (§ 344). 
The three psychic states, A, B, C of Figure 11 *7n 
stand in such succession that they may be sup- 
posed to form a continuous unit; but there are 
branches which lead to experimental cognitions 
p, q, r . . . or to other mystical, theological, or 
similar vagaries, M,N . . . 

514. Those considerations carry us into the 
field of the logic of sentiments (§ 480). Ordinary thinking confuses 
the three propositions following: ^ 

\. A = X,X = B, therefore A = B. 

II. The name a of the thing A arouses in a person sentiments 
equivalent to the sentiments aroused by the word X; these are equiv- 
alent to the sentiments aroused by the name b of the thing B; there- 
fore sentiments aroused by the name a are equivalent to the senti- 
ments aroused by the name b. 

anderen Begriffs-Momenten qualificirten Materie, die so ah das Negative des Lichts, 
als ein Dunkles bestimmt ist." Vera comments, Vol. I, pp. 360-61: "Hier Aeiisseres 
und Anderes: That is to say: light is first positable as a phase opposite and exterior 
to another phase." P. 365: "Das Diin\ele: the obscuring principle." 

514 ^ For the sake of brevity we use the form of the mathematical equation, such 
as "A = X, X==B, therefore A = B." In that way we avoid secondary questions as 
to the character of the premises in the syllogism. This is not a treatise on logic. We 
are trying merely to indicate the chief point in the problem. What was said of the 
syllogism in § 97 also applies to arguments in equation form. 

Figure 11 



III. The premises are the same as in II, but the conclusion is: 
therefore A = B. 

From the experimental standpoint, proposition I is in accord with 
experience if A, X, B are real and well-defined things, and that ac- 
cord is the closer, the more exact the definitions of A, X, B are made. 
On the other hand the accord may break down if the terms are ill- 
defined. If X is not real, or, in general, if one of the three things 
A, X, B is not real, there can be no question of any accord with 
experience (§480). 

The sentiments aroused by a, X, h are real things; hence proposi- 
tion II is like proposition I and, like it, accords with experience if 
A, X, B are real. But a, X, b are ordinarily very vaguely defined, and 
the accord therefore is usually not very close. 

Proposition III has no logical value whatever, since the things 
A and B that figure in the conclusion are different from the things 
a and b which figure in the premises. To acquire such value it would 
not be sufficient for A, X, B to be real, well-defined things; it would 
be further necessary for the accord of the concepts a, X, b to corre- 
spond exactly to the relation between the things A, X, B. Just there, 
in fact, lies the essential difference between metaphysics and logico- 
experimental science; the former assumes such accord a priori, the 
latter subjects it to experimental verification.' 

514 ^ Mctaphysicists reply that every reasoning, whether experimental or not, is 
on concepts. We concede the point, since we are never willing to argue over names. 
Using that jargon (§ 95), we will say that the difference consists in the number of 
the concepts and in the way in which they are used. To learn the movements of 
celestial bodies Hegel uses a very few concepts, picked up here and there, and 
through them arrives at conclusions already known, which someone else has de- 
vised to represent those movements approximately and which he in his ignorance 
imagines represent them exacdy. Hence if in computing the positions of heavenly 
bodies the concepts he obtains in this fashion were compared with the concepts ob- 
served through a telescope, great discrepancies would appear. Astronomers contem- 
porary with Hegel, on the other hand, availed themselves of large numbers of con- 
cepts that they called astronomical observations, combined them with other large 
numbers of logico-mathematical inferences, and from the combination derived con- 
cepts as to the positions of stars that had the singular merit of fitting in fairly well 
— at least much better than Hegel's concepts — with the concepts derived by the 
astronomical observations of the time, and with those which were later derived from 
astronomical observations future from the standpoint of those days, past from ours. 
If, therefore, one would have concepts that like Hegel's are at variance with the 


In the logic of sentiment proposition III is the type of all reason- 
ing, substantially, and is held to be certainly "true." That type can 
be reshaped to fit the various types of syllogism. For one example, 
we may say: "The sentiments that the word a arouses in me are the 
same as the sentiments aroused in me by the word X, which stands 
for a general class; these are the same as the sentiments aroused by 
the word b; therefore the thing A, which corresponds to the word a, 
has the attribute B, which corresponds to the word b. But in that 
there is still too much exactness, and the type becomes substantially: 
"The sentiments aroused in me by a are iiot incompatible with 
the sentiments aroused in me by X, and these are not incompatible 
with the sentiments aroused in me by b; therefore A has the at- 
tribute B!' The argument, moreover, is in the form of a perfectly 
logical syllogism, and it is obtained by translating the propositions 
above in the following ways: "The sentiments aroused in me by 
a accord with those aroused in me by X" becomes "A is a mem- 
ber of the class X"; and "The sentiments aroused in me by X ac- 
cord with those aroused in me by b" becomes "All X's have the 
attribute B!' Hence, without any breach of formal logic, the con- 
clusion is reached that "A has the attribute B!' This sort of reason- 
ing is very widely used and, apart from the logico-experimental 
sciences, may be said to be the general rule. It is used by the masses 
at large and is almost the only one that carries conviction to 
them. It predominates especially in political and social discussion 

concepts yielded by observation, one should follow Hegel's lead. Those, on the other 
hand, who would have concepts which better approximate the concepts supplied by 
observation should follow the course pursued by astronomers, physicists, chemists, 
and the like. Here we are trying to discover sociological concepts of the latter kind, 
and for that reason we are following the latter course, which alone can provide us 
with them. We have absolutely no other reason for following it. 

514 ^ Sensini, La teoria della rendita, pp. 201-02: "Literary economists of an ex- 
traordinary productivity indulge in inquiries that may be summarized in this 
fashion: i. You treat a subject X without in any respect defining the terms you use. 
That allows you to play indefinitely on the ambiguity of the terms. 2. You never 
state a problem with the necessary definiteness, since by doing so it would be evi- 
dent in the vast majority of cases that the problem stated does not exist or else is 
unsolvable because badly stated. 3. You make liberal use of metaphysical and in 
general vague expressions, which, since they mean nothing, can mean anything, and 


From the experimental point of view the causes of error are tlie 
following: i. The translations cannot be experimentally accepted 
even if A, X, B are real things. 2. There is no way of knowing to 
what, exactly, the terms a, X, b correspond. The best chance for 
experimental verification — though not for persuasion through senti- 
ment — is offered by a proposition in which those terms correspond 
without too much vagueness to real things. In that case the transla- 
tions are more or less readily adaptable to realities, and the conclusion 
is, roughly, verified by experience. But the correspondence between 
a, X, b and real things may be very uncertain and even fail if one 
of the things proves not to be real. That is not noticed in the argu- 
ment, which is conducted around the words a, X, b — they are there 
even if real things corresponding to them fail to materialize. That 
is the most important cause of error, and it vitiates every reasoning 
of the kind. 3. The accord or mere compatibility of certain senti- 
ments with certain others is a vague relation lacking altogether in 
exactness. "The sentiments that a arouses in me accord with the 
sentiments aroused in me by X" is a proposition in great part 

In ordinary logic, finally, the conclusion follows from the prem- 
ises. In the logic of sentiment the premises follow from the con- 
clusion. In other words, the person who makes the syllogism, as 
well as the person who accepts it, is convinced in advance that A has 
the attribute B, and merely wishes to give his conviction an appear-" 
ance of being logical. So he goes looking for two premises that can 
justify the conclusion, the premises, namely, that "The sentiments 
which a arouses accord with the sentiments X arouses" and "The 
sentiments X arouses accord with the sentiments b arouses." He has 
little trouble in finding them, in view of the vagueness of the terms 
and the indefiniteness of what is meant by "accord." ^ 

so stand secure against every objection. 4. You appeal more or less covertly to senti- 
ments in general and to those most in vogue at the moment you are writing." The 
vast majority of literary works on economic problems that are making fortunes for 
their authors today are of the kind Sensini describes. 

514 "* It is therefore evident that the proposition "A has the attribute B" is the 
constant element in the syllogism and the element of greatest social importance. 
The premises leading to that conclusion are the variable and less important element. 
In our example of storm-compelling (§ 186-216), the conclusion of the syllogism — • 


515. Again in contrast with what takes place in logico-experi- 
mental thinking, where the value of a term increases in proportion 
to its exactness, the terms of a reasoning by accord of sentiments are 
more effective in proportion as they are vague and indefinite. That 
explains the abundant use such reasonings make of terms such as 
"good," "beautiful," "just," and the like (§408). The more in- 
definite the concepts corresponding to a, X, b, the easier it is to estab- 
lish, by way of sentiments, the accord between the concept a and the 
concept X, between the concept X and the concept b. If X is the 
concept "perfect," it is so indeterminate that it can be easily made to 
agree with the concepts A, B, determinate or indeterminate as these 
may be. "The motion of celestial bodies is perfect." And why not? 
Sentiment suggests no conflict between the two concepts (§§ 491 ^ 


516. So we have now arrived inductively, by examining concrete 
facts, at the point suggested hypothetically in § 13: we see, in other 
words, that there are many subjective, sentimental considerations 
of great potency which prompt people to evolve and accept theories 
independently of their logico-experimental validity (§ 304). We 
shall therefore have to deal with that subject at some length 
(Chapter IX). 

Meantime let us note another common error to which we have 
already alluded (§§ 16-17), and which lies in carrying outside the 
logico-experimental field conclusions that are valid only within it. 
After the elimination of a non-experimental term X has established 
a relation between the experimental terms A and B, proof or dis- 
proof of such a relation can in no wise serve to prove or disprove 
the "existence" of X. The experimental and non-experimental worlds 
have nothing in common and nothing touching the one can be 
inferred from the other. For a long time people tried to derive 
scientific propositions from the Bible, those, for instance, relating 

the constant element — was that tempests, hail-storms, winds, can be caused or 
averted by certain rites. The variable element was the explanation of such power — 
the premises, in other words, from which the conclusion (the belief) resulted. In- 
duction led us to note the fact, and we stated it in general form (§ 217). Now wc 
are going a step farther, noting the causes of the fact, bringing it into relationship 
with other facts. 


to the movements of the Earth and the stars. Nowadays the reverse 
reasoning is fashionable: from the fact, that is, that such scientific 
propositions are false, people try to infer that biblical theology is 
false (§487). Of those tw^o methods of reasoning neither can be 
accepted by anyone who insists on remaining within the experi- 
mental field (§481). The scientific errors of the Bible merely show 
that we must not go to theology for the relationships obtaining be- 
tween experimental facts; just as Hegel's scientific errors merely 
show that metaphysics is no better prepared than theology to supply 
those relationships. And that is all. The errors in question prove 
nothing as to any doctrines that metaphysicists and theologians may 
be pleased to set up outside the experimental field. 

517. b. (§ 483). Inquiries into virtual movements when the move- 
ments belong to the experimental field are just a way of considering 
experimental relations; and therefore what has been said above 
applies to them also. If some term towards which virtual movements 
tend lies outside the experimental field, we need not deal with it 
here, unless an attempt should be made to return to experience by 
eliminating that term; but in that case we should again be going 
back to relations between experimental facts. 

518. r. (§ 483). There remains the inquiry as to what ought to be 
done, the precept (§§ 325 f.). This is a class of relations that may lie 
entirely beyond experience, even when the related terms are experi- 
mental. What takes it out of the experimental field is the term 
"ought," which does not correspond to any concrete reality.^ The 
question may still be asked, "And if an individual does not do what 
it is said he ought to do, what will happen?" That question leads to 
a consideration of virtual movements {b, § 483). 

519. Nexuses by which elements in theories are combined (second 
problem stated in § 467). Let us begin with a few examples. 

There is the case of chemistry when the atomic theory was in full 
vigour. Chemists worked on certain hypotheses and succeeded in 
explaining the facts of chemistry that were known and in foreseeing 
facts that were unknown and which experience eventually verified. 

518 ''■ Man tide. Chap. I, §§39-40. 


Such are all scientific theories, and they have unmistakable charac- 

520. But here now, for another example, is one of the so-called 
moral theories. It is of an entirely different character. There is no 
trace of any experimental verification of any sort. People ask how 1 
things ought to be, and they conduct the inquiry in such a way as to I 
find certain relations that exist, or which they would like to have \ 
exist, among things. Imagine a chemist saying: "It is a pity that when 
mercury protochloride is exposed to light it should change spon- 
taneously into mercury bichloride, a virulent poison. I shall therefore 
look for a chemical theory that will render such a thing impossible." 
Yet there you would have a widely cultivated type of moral theory. 

521. Even apart from that type the difference between theories 
that allow themselves to be guided strictly by the facts and theories 
that try to influence the facts, is striking. Compare, for example, the 
atomic theory of modern chemistry and the atomic theory of Lucre- 
tius. The difference lies more in the character of the researches than 
in the greater or lesser experimental validity of the data and the 

522. In former times theories of natural facts were like modern 
moral theories. Later on they changed completely in outlook and 
became our modern scientific theories. Aristotle's treatise De coelo 
may be classed with modern treatises on morals. It cannot be classed 
with Newton's Principia, much less with Laplace's Traite de 
mecanique celeste. Anyone willing to read those three books one 
after the other will observe at once that Aristotle's is altogether 
different from the others in character and in the purpose of the in- 
vestigation. There is no seeking the cause of such a difference in the 
ability or scholarship of the respective authors. Newton wrote a 
commentary on the Apocalypse well worthy of a place beside 
Aristotle's De coelo. 

523. If, therefore, we set out to arrange theories according to the 
character of their demonstrations, we have to distinguish two types. 
In one the nexus consists entirely of logical implications of facts; 
in the odier there is an added something that transcends experience 


— some concept of necessity, duty, or the like. Finally, to complete 
our survey, we must further consider propositions in which the 
logical nexus is reduced to little or nothing — which are mere de- 
scriptions or narrations. In that way we get the three following 

Class I. Descriptive propositions (§ 525) 

Class 2. Propositions asserting experimental uniformities (§ 526) 
Class 3. Propositions that either add something to experimental 
uniformities, or ignore them (§ 574). 

524. Scientific theories consist of propositions of the first and 
second classes. Sometimes propositions of the third class are ap- 
pended; and they may do no harm provided the non-experimental 
adjunct be superfluous; but they may impair the scientific character 
of the theory if the non-experimental adjunct affects conclusions. 
Sociological theories and many^ economic theories have hitherto 
made liberal use of propositions of the third class so affecting re- 
sults. Such propositions must be eliminated if we would have a 
sociology or an economics of a truly scientific character. 

Suppose we now examine the logico-experimental sciences with 
reference to the classes just mentioned. Here, however, we have to 
deal with them only in a very incidental way, since our main in- 
terest is in theories dependent upon social facts. 

525. Class i : Descriptive propositions. Examples: "I tried to find 
the density of pure water under an atmospheric pressure of 760 mm. 
of mercury; and I observed a maximum density at 4°." "Roman 
marriage was between one man and one woman at a time." The 
description may be extended to any length one wishes; but when 
it becomes at all protracted there is a danger that propositions of 
another class will creep in. The human being finds it very difficult 
to stop at mere description ; he is always tempted to add explanation. 
To say, "The Greeks were hospitable to beggars," is a description; 
but to say, "The Greeks were hospitable to beggars because they 
thought that beggars came from Zeus," adds an explanation to the 
description. We could get back to pure description by saying, "The 
Greeks were hospitable to beggars, and there were some who said 



that they ought to be because beggars came from Zeus." The dis- 
tinction may seem fine-spun, but it is a very helpful one ; for slipping 
explanation covertly into description is a favourite device for obtain- 
ing acceptance for explanations devoid of a logico-experimental 

526. Class 2: Propositions asserting experimental uniformities. In 
any statement of a uniformity there is something more than a 
description of happenings in the past; there is a forecast, more or 
less probable, of future happenings (§ 1068). If I say, "Under pres- 
sure of 760 mm. of mercury, water attains a maximum density at 
4°," I say something more than I said in the description stated above 
(§525). I assert that if anyone puts water under those conditions 
he will observe a maximum density at 4°. 

Note further that the last proposition contains a number of im- 
plicit assertions. It asserts that pressure and temperature are the sole 
determinants of density. If, for example, the electric tension of the 
atmosphere were also a determinant, the descriptive proposition 
would be incomplete, because I ought to have noted the atmospheric 
condition; but the proposition asserting the uniformity would be 
false, for if I were to make another experiment under different 
electrical conditions, I should not find the maximum density at 4°. 

527. Suppose, instead of a hypothetical case, we take a real one. 
"I placed a thermometer in pure water, and I observed that the 
water began to solidify at o°." My proposition is incomplete. I should 
have noted other circumstances — atmospheric pressure, for example. 
If I say, "Pure water solidifies at o°," with no specifications as to 
other conditions, my proposition is false. James Thomson found that 
under a pressure of 16.8 atmospheres, pure water solidifies at a 
temperature of 0.129°. The proposition noted above, though false in 
the strictest sense, is customarily used by physicists because it is 
understood that the experiment is to be performed under the normal 
atmospheric pressure of 760 mm. of mercury and under other con- 
ditions well known to physicists. In that case there is no harm in 

525 1 This is not just the place to stop and consider how far the generic term "the 
Greeks" may be taken as exact. 


such language; but if the conditions that are presumed are not 
accurately determined, if they are in the least respect uncertain, the 
proposition would have to be rejected. Of just such obscurities people 
\l avail themselves when they introduce conditions that cannot be 
taken for granted explicitly. 

528. Metaphysicists imagine that experimental science deals with 
absolute propositions (§97), and on that hypothesis they reasonably 
conclude that in the statement, "Water solidifies at o°," there must 
be something more than a mere epitome of experiments— there must 
be some principle of necessity. But that edifice crumbles — its founda- 
/ tions are weak. The scientific proposition, "Water solidifies at o°," 
' merely indicates that that fact has so far been observed and that very 

probably therefore it will be observed in the future (§97). 
^ 529. Someone might say: "That statement does not take into ac- 
count the positions of the Sun and its planets in space. It is true that 
so far those conditions have not been known to influence the tem- 
perature at which water solidifies; but how can you be sure they 
will not do so in the future?" We can only say, "We are not sure." 
And we should have to give the same answer if someone were to 
assert that some day the Sun in its swift course will carry us into a 
four-dimensional space, or to a place where the laws of physics and 
chemistry will no longer hold. Every scientific proposition has to be 
understood as prefaced by the reservation "within the limits of time 
and space known to us." Beyond those limits lie probabilities, now 
slight probabilities, now great probabilities, but nothing more 


530. It is laughable to reflect that though it is indispensable to 
state such reservations in sciences as advanced as chemistry and 
physics, there are people who think they are not necessary in a 
science as backward as sociology. But in any event we have no in- 
tention of quarrelling with them. Blessed indeed are they in knowing 
the essences of things (§ 19) and the necessary relations between 
facts. We, much more modest, are simply trying to discover such 
relations as experience discloses (§ 69-4) ; and if those good souls 
are right, it only means that we shall be discovering with great effort 

§533 "higher principles" 317 

and after laborious investigation things that were revealed to them 
by metaphysical enlightenment. If the relations they talk about are 
really necessary, v^t cannot possibly find different ones. 

531. Metaphysicists are still maintaining that one well-conducted 
observation is enough to establish a uniformity in chemistry and 
physics, and that therefore what is needed is a "higher principle" 
enabling us to draw just that inference — which certainly does not 
owe its existence to any great number of facts, since it has been 
drawn from only one. They are entirely wrong. Those many other 
facts are there, and they are present in all other similar facts that 
have been previously observed. Why is just one chemical analysis 
sufficient to determine the proportions in which two elements are 
combined in a compound? Because that fact falls into a group of 
incalculably numerous facts that have permitted recognition of the 
uniformity (law) of definite proportions. Why is one accurate 
observation enough to establish the gestation period of a female 
mammal? Because that fact is one of a very large group of facts 
which show that the period is constant (§ 556). 

532. For that reason when a fact is referred to the wrong group, 
the conclusion is false. If one infers from the fact that there is a 
male and a female Phylloxeron that all Phylloxera are born of males 
and females, so classing the Phylloxeron with cases of sexual genera- 
tion, one's inference is mistaken, for the case happens to belong to a 
category where parthenogenesis occurs. There is no "higher prin- 
ciple" to guide us. There is nothing but experience; and it shows 
that along with cases of sexual generation among Phylloxera there 
are cases of parthenogenesis. 

533. Among propositions asserting uniformities, some give experi- 
mental "explanations" of facts. The explanation consists solely in 
putting the fact that is to be "explained" in relation with other facts. 
So one science, to wit, thermodynamics, "explains" why there are 
bodies (such as water) where the melting point lowers as pressure 
increases, and others where it rises. Such an "explanation" amounts 
to nothing more than placing that property in the substance in 
question in a relationship of uniformity with other properties in the 


same substance. Scientific explanations other than that do not exist. 

534. It is inexact phrasing to say that celestial mechanics "ex- 
plains" the movements of heavenly bodies by universal gravitation. 
Celestial mechanics has put forward the hypothesis that the move- 
ments of heavenly bodies satisfy the equations of dynamics; and 
down to our time the positions of heavenly bodies as calculated by 
dynamics have been the same, allowing for possible errors, as the 
positions obtained by observation. So long as that correspondence 
holds the hypothesis will be held sound. If it should fail to obtain 
some day, it will be modified. 

535. What use can be made of facts in sociology, and how can 
uniformities be deduced from them ? ^ 

536. Facts. Facts are known through various sources that historical 
criticism sifts and appraises.^ With the problems of historical criti- 
cism we are not called upon to deal specially here. We need concern 
ourselves merely with certain particular subjects that are of special 
importance to sociology. 

537. Numbers of facts. It is evident that the greater the number 
of facts we have at our disposal, the better, and that perfection would 
be attained if all the facts of a given kind could be utilized. That, 
however, is altogether impossible, and therefore it is simply a ques- 
tion of a more or a less. 

In assembling any great number of facts of a given variety two 
obstacles of differing nature are encountered. As regards antiquity, 
the sources yield facts in scant numbers. For modern times too many 

535 1 To find uniformities is really the purpose of this whole study; and step by 
step as we seek and find them we shall distinguish methods appropriate to the pur- 
pose from methods that are not. Actually, then, we might simply refer to the rest 
of these volumes as a whole. But it is helpful to have a general view of a subject 
and grasp it in its broad outlines. That is the purpose of the remarks following. 

536 ^ De Morgan, Les premieres civilisations, pp. 29-30: "The documents that con- 
stitute the foundations of history properly so called are of four different varieties: 
I. Documents contemporary with events, inscriptions, coins, medallions, histories, 
annals memoirs. 2. Archaeological documents, monuments, objects of one kind or 
another found on the ground or underground. 3. Narratives posterior to the events 
they describe. 4. Results of the various sciences . . . geology, zoology, botany, an- 
thropology, ethnography, sociology, philology, which it is wise to supplement withi 
data relating to industries, arts, commerce, scientific development, and so on." 


are available to allow all to be sought out and quoted. To get them 
all together would in itself be a long and not very fruitful task. 
Then once they were assembled, no publisher could print the huge 
folios that would be required to hold them, and no reader would 
care to read them. What profit would there be in collecting all the 
accounts of all the strikes, big and litde, that have occurred in all 
the countries of the world, and printing them in a large library of 
volumes ? 

Since records surviving from antiquity are relatively few, the 
modern custom is to quote all or nearly all writers who mention a 
given subject. That is well enough, and nothing else could be done, 
it would seem, in works of scholarship. That was more or less the 
method of the manual of Roman antiquities of Marquardt and 
Mommsen, of the dictionary of Greek and Roman antiquities of 
Daremberg and Saglio, and of other works of the kind. For the 
Middle Ages, the same may sometimes be done as regards literature 
proper; but many mediaeval sources still lie unpublished in Euro- 
pean archives. For modern times materials are overabundant and 
no such thing is possible. A selection has to be made.^ 

537 ^ Cridcs at no great cost to themselves can always find some fact that has 
been omitted; and there are those who avail themselves of such omissions to con- 
demn books which they could not by any means have written themselves. "You 
have omitted such and such a fact," they say, or, "You have used such and such 
an edition, and it is not the best." All that would be justifiable if the critic could 
add, "and the fact you omit is important for or against your theory," or, "The best 
reading of the best edition is equally important to you." Without that supplement 
the criticism is childish and betrays the mere fatuity of a pedant, sometimes well 
read, more often ignorant. That good soul M. Aulard, being too much in a hurry 
to find fault with Taine, had a comical adventure that reminds one of the proverb 
of the cat that, through too great haste, had blind kittens (see Cochin, La crise de 
I'histoire revolutiomiaire : Taiiie et M. Aulard). Even as regards an insignificant 
detail deriving from Clement of Alexandria, Aulard's criticism is wholly wrong. 
Pareto, "Un petit probleme de philologie," Independance, May i, 1912: "After all, 
as regards the history of the French Revolution, it does not matter very much 
whether Taine gave an accurate or an inaccurate translation of a passage from 
Clement of Alexandria. M. Aulard could have overlooked the matter without the 
slightest embarrassment. But if he was bent on going into it, he should have done 
so with the time and attention required . . . and then he would have seen that 
the comparison drawn by Clement was exactly parallel with the comparison Taine 
wanted to draw, and so have abstained from a criticism destitute of any founda- 
tion." It is first-class comedy to catch M. Aulard condemning Taine for errors in 


538. Weight of facts. The significance of facts is more important 
than their number. A single fact well observed and well described 
is of greater value than a very large number of facts carelessly 
observed and inadequately described/ 

The pedantic custom of "complete bibliographies" has nowadays 
come into great vogue. A writer must quote all the writers who, 
well or badly, sensibly or stupidly, have touched on his subject.^ As 
a rule he merely quotes them — he does not read, and much less 
master, them, and for the good reason — if for no other — that he 
would not have time for such a feat. But he transcribes the titles in 
an attractive index, and the more of them he gets in, the more he 
is admired by pedants and cephalopods. In determining the rela- 
tions between facts or scientific laws, it would be better for him to 
master the principal authors and pay no attention to the others. Not 
even for knowing the history of a doctrine is it useful to read all the 
writers who have written on it; it is sufficient to centre on the chief 
types. It is laughable to see a person making a "complete bibliog- 
raphy" of the writers who have written on "income" and showing 
himself entirely ignorant of the phenomena known by that name 
and even more ignorant of their relations to other economic 

539. As usual, scholarship has gone to that extreme to avoid an- 

transcription and making similar ones himself in quoting from Taine: cf. Taine's 
loth ed., Vol. Ill, with Aulard's quotations: Taine, tisstis, Aulard, tisses; Taine, en 
chantant, Aulard, et chantant; Taine, et soiileve, Aulard, // sotileve. Three errors in 
eleven lines! M. Aulard will say that they are insignificant, that they do not in any 
way change the meaning, that they do not affect his criticisms, that it is the part of 
a pedant to call attention to them. Excellent! That is just my point! And that is why 
I did not specify such errors in my review. But why did M. Aulard forget that 
golden rule and go carping at Taine? Medice, ctira te ipsum! 

538 ^ It is well known that in modern palaeography all manuscripts deriving 
from an archetype count as one only. The Codex Ambrosianus of Plautus, for in- 
stance, counts for more than all the other Plautan manuscripts. 

538 ^ In Independance, Feb. 15, 1912 [wrong reference ?] Georges Sorel con- 
cludes the review of a book with a remark that applies to many similar cases: "This 
study, grounded on the strictest principles of the Sorbonne, and utilizing four hun- 
dred and twenty-two authors in its composition, affords an interesting example of 
the insignificance of the results that are achieved by tlie methods imparted by Lan- 



Other, where it was a question of reasoning without giving facts. Of 
the two evils the lesser, and by far, is to give too many facts rather 
than none at all, and it is also better for the number of facts to be 
larger rather than smaller than is required for proof. Better even a 
"complete bibliography" of writers hastily read than complete 
ignorance of the literature of one's subject. 

540. Leaving aside absolute certitude, which does not exist for the 
experimental sciences, and speaking only of greater or lesser proba- 
bilities, we have to recognize that for many historical facts such 
probability is slight, for others great, and for still others so great 
as to be equivalent to what in ordinary parlance is known as cer- 
tainty. In that sense many facts are certain in general but uncertain 
in their details. It seems certain that the Battle of Salamis took 
place, but it is not at all certain that the details were just as Herodotus 
reports them. Indeed, to judge by analogy with other accounts of the 
kind, it is very probable that some of the details he gives are wrong. 
However, we do not know which. Even in times far closer to ours, 
it is "certain" that the Battle of Waterloo took place, but various 
details of it are still matters of dispute. 

Following a method that will be explained in § 547, it is easy to 
see for oneself that when there are several accounts of a given epi- 
sode, they often differ in particulars. In some of them it is possible 
to prove that particulars are wrong (§ 649), and any interpretation 
treating them as accurate would certainly lead to error. In that con- 
nexion, two pitfalls have to be avoided : on the one hand, the danger 
of basing theories primarily upon disputable facts — an error often 
made in investigations of origins ; on the other hand, the temptation 
to reject any theory that is not supported by absolutely authenticated 
facts, as certain pedants nowadays seem inclined to do; on that basis 
all theories would be rejectable. We must find a just mean, framing 
our theories cautiously, sifting and selecting the facts and using them 
warily, always bearing in mind that the best of theories may show 
some small margin of error (§ 69 ^). 

What is said above is nothing peculiar to sociology: it applies to 
all the sciences, even the most exact. In using a table of logarithms 


to seven places one must know that beyond that point the logarithm 
cannot be guessed. Not so long ago the atomic weights of chemical 
elements were known only approximately. Now they are known 
with relative exactness, but absolute exactness we shall never have. 
From the days of Tycho Brahe down to our own, measurements of 
stellar distances have been brought closer and closer to perfection, 
but they were still very imperfect in Newton's time. Should scientists, 
on that account, have refrained from framing the theories of celes- 
tial mechanics, just to please a few pedants ? Or indeed, to state the 
full truth, should they not rather forbear from theory now and 
forever? Absolutely exact measurements are not yet available, and 
they never will be. 

We can go even farther. It was a fortunate circumstance for the 
foundation of celestial mechanics that in Kepler's time observations 
of the planet Mars were not very exact. If they had been he would 
not have detected an ellipse in the curve traversed by that planet and 
so would not have discovered the laws of planetary movement. It was 
also fortunate that he elected to study the movements of Mars rather 
than those of the Moon, which is subject to greater disturbances.^ 

540 ^ Bertrand, Les jondateurs de V astronomic moderne, pp. 146-47: "Kepler was 
in a position to say, it is true, that an error of eight minutes was impossible on his 
part. That self-confidence saved the day. Had he been able to say as much of an 
error of eight seconds, all would have been lost. . . . Kepler was mistaken, in fact, 
in regarding the important advantage he had won over the rebellious and stubborn 
planet as one of those decisive victories that for ever end a struggle. Those great 
laws, eternally true [Bertrand might have dispensed with this discursion into meta- 
physics.] within reasonable limits, are not strictly mathematical. [They are a first 
approximation, the approximation of the elliptical movement so called.] Numberless 
perturbations are constandy deflecting Mars from his course, gradually freeing him 
from the frail bonds in which the fortunate astronomer thought he had shackled 
him for ever. For anyone going more deeply into the matter [Successive approxima- 
tions], such irregularities once accounted for and become predictable bring a star- 
tling confirmation to the theory of attraction, which they enhance in importance 
in proportion as they make it clearer. But any premature acquaintance with them, 
which would necessarily have resulted from more accurate observations, would have 
wrapped the truth in unfathomable complications, and perhaps long have retarded 
progress in knowledge of the mechanics of the universe. For in that case Kepler 
would have had as good reason to reject the elliptical orbit as the circular orbit, 
and would have been forced to hunt for the laws of the irregular movement di- 
recdy, at the risk of wearing out his stubborn patience and exhausdng all his keen 
resourcefulness on insuperable obstacles." Whereas knowledge of the elliptical 


What at that time was the work of chance must now be done by 
the method of successive approximations (§69-9). Every now and 
then the scientific theories of economics and sociology are chal- 
lenged as disregarding certain particulars. That, instead, is a merit. 
One must first obtain a general concept of the thing one is studying, 
disregarding details, which for the moment are taken as perturba- 
tions; and then come to particulars afterwards, beginning with the 
more important and proceeding successively towards the less im- 

541. Suppose we have before us a text, or a number of texts, of a 
given writer. It (they) may be considered from three points of view: 
I. As to what the writer thought, his psychic state, and how he came 
by it. 2. As to what he meant in a given passage. 3. As to how people 
of a given group at a given time have understood him. From the 
standpoint of the social equilibrium the importance of the queries 
increases from No. i to No. 3. From the objective standpoint No. 2 
is virtually the only one to be considered, provided it be possible to 
establish a moderately exact relation between the writer's testimony 
and something objectively real. No. i is personal to the writer. No. 2 
is impersonal, objective — the passage may be considered independ- 
ently of the person who wrote it (§ 855). No. 3 relates to the writer's 

I. The ideas of a writer do not always present consistent unity, 

movement led to the notion that the movements of the planets might be due to 
solar attraction. Then the theory of attraction was extended to the reciprocal influ- 
ences of the planets upon each other and upon the Sun; and so the successive af>- 
proximations of astrophysics were obtained. 

540 ~ Deliberate disregard of certain particulars in a first approximation is often- 
times called an error, and those who make that criticism no more than confirm the 
old saw that "the silence that is golden never gets into lead." There are those who 
condemn one branch of social science for keeping distinct from other branches and 
imagine that to ignore one branch while dealing with another is to be either igno- 
rant concerning it or neglectful of it (§ SSf-). That criticism is different from the 
other, but it has an identical origin in a presumptuous ignorance of the character 
of scientific theories and the need of arriving at them by analysis. All the same, 
those good souls have to be thanked for not extending their censures beyond the 
limits of the social sciences. They might just as well censure an economist for not 
including cooking in his science, for cooking, as no one will deny, also contributes 
very considerably to joyous living (Pareto, Coins, §§2, 34). 


not only because they vary with time, as may be seen in St. Augus- 
tine's Retractationes {Opera, Vol. I, p. 583) and other books of the 
kind, but also because in matters pertaining to sentiment an author 
may express differing and even contradictory ideas in the same text 
without being aware of it. When, therefore, one tries to ascertain his 
ideas on a certain matter, one may be looking for something that 
does not exist. Yet doing just that has now become the vogue. We 
have a pest of "psychological" studies of writers, which are, after all, 
mere collections of anecdotes and gossip serving as materials for 
the lectures and the light reading so especially dear to ladies of 
fashion who imagine that they are following the scientific movement 
in devouring them (§§ 858-59). It is also in style to wonder why a 
writer wrote what he wrote; and if one can somehow manage to 
discover that he wrote it in a moment of rage at a betrayal by a 
mistress, one thinks one has discovered America. 

Beyond question, an author's views have some relation to the 
sentiments prevailing in the group in which he lives, and it is there- 
fore possible, within certain limits, to gain from his views some light 
as to those sentiments, which, meantime, are elements in the social 
equilibrium. But it is curious that that is more especially the case 
' with commonplace writers of mediocre talents than with eminent 
authors, those of great genius. The latter in virtue of their very 
qualities rise above the commonalty and stand apart from the mass 
of people. They therefore reflect less reliably the ideas, beliefs, and 
sentiments actually prevailing.^ 

2. When we know what a writer intended to say in a given text, 

541 ^ Sorel well says in "Quelqiies pretentions jnives," pp. 217 £.: "Most often 
when we are trying to determine the historical role of a group of human beings, 
we study individuals to whom we think we can ascribe a capacity for representing, 
more or less perfectly, the spiritual force of the group at large; we note the senti- 
ments, aspirations, philosophical conceptions, which those exceptional people have 
voiced. We construct from individual elements, in a word, that consciousness of 
rights and duties which according to our estimate prevailed in the group. Now and 
again historians have chosen to deceive themselves as to the reliability of the results 
obtained by that method, holding that 'representative men' are altogether deter- 
mined by environment. Then again other writers, admiring the originality that not 
a few of such representative men evince, have seen creative geniuses in them. . . . 
Evidently, the truth lies somewhere between those two extreme views." 

§541 TEXTUAL criticism: objective standpoint 325 

and provided we have reason to believe his testimony moderately 
veracious, we say that the text establishes certain facts. All docu- 
ments called historical are substantially of that kind. 
3. In addition to the facts usually made available in that way there 
I; are others which it is important for us to know. We have already 
seen, and we shall see more clearly as we go on, that the sentiments 
manifested in the beliefs and ideas of human beings are important 
factors in determining social phenomena; and it follows from this 

I[ that sentiments and expressions of sentiments are "facts" as im- 
I <'portant for sociology as the "facts" that are actions. Even if the Battle 
' '^of Marathon had never taken place, the conception the Athenians 
had of it remains a fact of great significance as regards the form of 
Athenian society. Thucydides, Historiae, I, 20, says that it is not true 
that, as the Athenian masses believed, Hipparchus was the tyrant 
when he was murdered by Harmodius and Aristogiton; but as re- 
gards the form of Athenian society the fact itself is less significant 
than the conception that the Athenian masses had of it. And among 
the forces exerting a powerful influence in determining that form 
was certainly the sentiment which found expression when the 
Athenians sang the praises of Harmodius and Aristogiton for killing 
the tyrant and making Athenians equals before the law." So we 
arrive at the conclusion — it seems paradoxical but is not — that to 
understand the form of Athenian society it is much less important 
to know whether Hipparchus was really a tyrant, or even whether 
the whole story was not just a legend, than it is to know the ideas 
of the Athenians on the matter. 

Does the famous oration on the war-dead of Athens that Thu- 
cydides puts into the mouth of Pericles repeat even approximately 
the words that Pericles actually delivered.? We do not know, and 
for purposes of determining manners of feeling and thinking at 
Athens at the time, we little care. In all probability Thucydides 

541 ^Bergk, Poetae lyrici Graeci, Scolia, 9, 11, pp. 1019-20: "Mid branches of 
myrtle will I bear my sword even as Harmodius and Aristogiton when they slew 
the tyrant and made the Athenians equal before the law." "Mid branches of myrde 
will I bear my sword, even as Harmodius and Aristogiton when they slew Hip- 
parchus the tyrant at the Panathenaia." 


wrote the oration in the spirit of the environment with which he was 
thoroughly familiar. It would be strange .indeed that, inventing the 
oration out of whole cloth, he should have written it in such a way 
as to clash with attitudes with which his readers were as well 
acquainted as he (§ 243). 

Nowadays there are people who say that Christ was a solar myth. 
Grant the point for the moment. Will the tremendous role played 
by Christianity, or rather by the sentiments manifested under Chris- 
tian form in European society, be any the less important on that 
account ? Sorel well says : ^ "As for the stigmata of St. Francis, we 
do not need to know just what those sores were like; but we do have 
to find out what conception the Middle Ages had of them. The con- 
ception was what influenced history, and that influence is inde- 
pendent of the physiological problem." 

So, as regards a given country at a given period, the significance 
of what an author wrote lies not so much in what he meant as in 
what the people who read his book in that country at that time 
thought he meant.* There is a radical difference between a text con- 
sidered as evidence of what a writer witnessed or thought — and 
used for the purposes of getting at the things he witnessed or 
thought — and a text considered as influencing its readers and used 
for purposes of determining the ideas and conduct of those indi- 
viduals. When a text is considered from the biographical standpoint 
it is very important to know what the author intended to say. When 
a text is considered from the social standpoint such an inquiry is 
virtually irrelevant. The important thing is to know how the text 
was taken, even if it was taken upside down. 

That point is not appreciated by people who think a text has an 

541 ^ Le system e historiqtte de Re nan, Vol. I, p. 37. 

541 * Sorel, "Ouelques pretentions jtiives," p. 231: "Renan's judicious remarks 
are quite to the point here: 'In religious history, the significance of a text lies not 
in what the author meant but in what the requirements of the time made him 
mean. The religious history of mankind is a history of misunderstandings.' [And 
in a note he quotes Renan, Histoire du peuple d' Israel, Vol. IV, p. 193.] The re- 
mark also applies very well to secular history. The [German] Social Democracy has 
had to perform miracles of misinterpretation in order to pretend it was following 
Hegel" (§ iioi ^). 


absolute meaning and has to be understood in its "true" meaning 
only. So they go hunting for that "true" meaning, and it turns out 
after all to be the one they like best — which gives them a chance 
to quarrel with anyone who does not see it as they see it/ 

542. And in certain cases it is easier to know with certainty (very 
great probability) facts relating to expressions of thought than to 
know facts relating to conduct. There may, of course, be doubt as 
to the correctness of a text at our disposal; but once that doubt is 
removed, we have the fact itself before us and are not obliged to 
discuss it at second hand. Our knowledge of what Cicero says about 
Catiline is much more reliable than our knowledge of much of 
Catiline's conduct. 

543. Literary compositions — works of the imagination, stories, 
legends, and the like — are generally of little value as sources for 
historical and geographical information. All the same, scarcity of 
documents sometimes forces us to depend on them for ancient times 
or for periods not extensively studied; but we must do so with great 
caution. To comprehend the situation more clearly, we might 
illustrate a method that we are to elaborate in § 547. 

544. I have before me a short story by Alphonse Karr that con- 
tains allusions to Lausanne, Montreux, and Geneva.^ Suppose we 
are faced by a problem such as ancient Greece presents to scholars 
of our day. Suppose some two thousand years hence Karr's story 
is the only surviving document in which Montreux is mentioned, 
and the scholars of that time are trying to ascertain the location of 
Montreux in respect to Lausanne and Geneva. Criticism shows that 
Karr is worthy of all confidence : he lived at a time when Montreux 
was still flourishing, and in a neighbouring country, France. Almost 
all wealthy and educated Frenchmen of his time made frequent 

541 ° Another point: Critical editions enable one to get back, with greater or lesser 
probability, to the archetype of manuscripts that have come down to us; but they 
cannot show the relations of the archetype to a writer's thought. We might not be 
able to get his thought altogether even if we had the original autograph. One need 
only think of what happens in our day of the printing-press. In reading proofs a 
writer often notices imperfections that escaped him when he was reading his orig- 
inal, especially if it has been dictated to someone else; and he makes changes in it. 

544 ^ "Pour ne pas ctre treize," pp. 8, 9, 78. 


visits to Switzerland. It is very probable that Karr had personal 
knowledge of Montreux. He could have had, furthermore, no con- 
ceivable motive for concealing the truth. What he says may therefore 
be taken as the testimony of an eyewitness — better testimony than his 
could not be desired. A scholar ransacks libraries, studies, meditates, 
and he finds that one of Karr's characters passed through Montreux 
on his way from Lausanne to Geneva. Of course one has to be on 
one's guard against typographical errors — much like the miscopyings 
of scribes in the manuscripts of the old days. But no — that danger is 
dispelled by the author's own words : "I arrived at Montreux at about 
four o'clock. It is a village to the right of the highway bordering the 
lake as one comes in from Lausanne and stands some hundred paces 
back from the road. It is reached by a climb up over a narrow path 
that bristles with stones." No doubt therefore! It is really the road 
from Lausanne to Geneva, the road that has the lake to the left and 
the hills to the right as one comes in from Lausanne. Then comes 
another passage that confirms the others and dispels any suspicion 
of scribal error or textual interpolation. The same character in the 
story is returning from Geneva to Lausanne. "A half-hour later, the 
two friends departed for Lausanne. As they passed through Mon- 
treux, which stood on the height to the left, Eugene expressed a 
wish to go up to the village for a moment." Our future scholar will 
write a learned thesis, and deliver it before a society of scholars, 
showing that Montreux must have been located between Lausanne 
and Geneva; and who knows but what some archaeologist, follow- 
ing that lead, may even find the ruins of Montreux in the region so 
designated! And yet if one thing in this world is certain, it is that 
Montreux lies beyond Lausanne as one comes in from Geneva, and 
that in going from Lausanne to Geneva or returning from Geneva to 
Lausanne one does not pass Montreux. 

Not a little of the information we have, or think we have, about 
antiquity has no firmer foundations than the inferences I have just 
drawn from Karr's story: and the certain error in his case shows 
the possibility of similar errors in classical scholarship. 

545. Purely literary compositions, works of the imagination, 


Stories, legends, are often valuable sources for knowledge of senti- 
ments; and oftentimes indirect testimony of that kind is worth more 
than any amount of direct testimony. In his Mimiambi Herondas 
gives a parody of a counsel's plea before an Athenian court. The 
orator says, in substance, that if his opponent has prevented a famine 
by bringing grain into the city (or else, if he, the orator, has not 
performed such a public service) the fact ought not to militate 
against him in the eyes of the judges.^ It is evident from the passage 
that it must have been a common opinion that judges were influ- 
enced in their decisions by considerations of benevolence or malevo- 
lence of the kind mentioned, quite aside from the merits of a case — 
otherwise the parody would lose all meaning. Its testimony therefore 
is worth more than any number of direct assertions (§ 572). 

So many novels record prevalent opinions, and the opinions often 
correspond to certain facts and give synthetic conceptions of them 
that are much more valuable than anything that might be had 
from any amount of miscellaneous direct testimony." When a book 
has many readers, it is highly probable that it reflects their senti- 
ments and may therefore prove helpful in discovering them.^ How- 
ever, one has to make haste very slowly along such a path, for if we 
are too facile with our interpretations we may fall into serious 

546. Interpretations. For the very reason that first-hand knowledge 
of facts is rarely available, interpretations are indispensable, and any- 

545 '^Mimiambi, II, 16: "If, then, piloting a ship from Achaea, he brought grain 
and put an end to the fierce famine . . ." Variant rendering (by Blass) : "If I have 
not, piloting a ship from Achaea, brought grain and put an end to the fierce fam- 
ine . . ." (Knox: "Perhaps he will say to you: 'I have come from Acre with a cargo 
of wheat and stayed the accursed famine.' ") 

545 ^ Zola's L'argent, for example, gives a fairly accurate synthetic conception of 
life at the Paris stock exchange in the days of the Union Generale. Maupassant's 
Bel Ami gives a picture hard to match of the financial speculations of the politicians 
at the time of the occupation of Tunis by France, and of the part played by the 
press in those intrigues. Similar phenomena were observable later on at the time of 
the conflict between France and Morocco, following the Agadir affair. 

545 ^ In great vogue towards the end of the eighteenth century in nearly all 
civilized countries, and in France in particular, was the doctrine that accounts all 
conduct logical and every non-logical action a "prejudice." The spread of the doc- 


! one resolved to do absolutely without them might as well not bother 
with history and sociology. But it is important to decide when, how, 
and to what extent they may, with a fair degree of probability, be 
trusted. That question, like all questions in the experimental sciences, 
has to be answered on the basis of experience. 

547. There is one method that gives good results in many cases. 
Let A stand for a fact of the past. We do not know the "explanation" 
of it. So we find one — that is to say, we establish a relation between 
A and another fact B, by way of a certain interpretation. Now we 
have to ascertain whether the interpretation leads to plausible re- 
trine may readily be judged from the fact that it affected even light literature — love- 
stories. For example, the younger Crebillon, La nuit et le moment, pp. 19-21: 

"Cidalise: Truly now, Clitandre — you do not love Araminte.? . . . {Clitandre 
shrugs his shoulders.) All the same — you have had her! 

"Clitandre: Oh, that's different! 

"Cidalise: So they say! It does seem to be different these days. 

"Clitandre : Not just these days! The old days too! 

"Cidalise: You astonish me! I thought this modern philosophy had changed all 

"Clitandre : Well, I think myself that in such matters, as in many others, it has 
improved our thinking, but less by changing the things we do than by giving us a 
clearer understanding of why we do them. Now we seem not to be acting so much 
by chance. Before we learned to reason so well, we used to do the very things we 
do today; but we did them under stress of temptation, without knowing what we 
were doing, and with all the qualms of conscience that prejudice inspired in us. We 
were not any more virtuous than we are today, but we wanted to seem so, and 
there is no doubt at all that in those days a ridiculous prejudice spoiled many a 
good time. But at last we have been lucky enough to see the truth [Milord True 
and Milady Truth are the great divinities of emancipated religions.], and what a 
relief it is! Women have never been so care-free in society. There has never been 
so little affectation of virtue. You like her? Well, you take her — and she you! You 
are bored.'' You separate with as little ado as you began! You are right in saying that 
love figures very little in all that. But what was love but a desire that people 
chose to exaggerate in importance in their own minds — a sensuous impulse that 
they had been silly enough to represent as a virtue? [Less frivolous writers had said 
the same of the religious and other instincts.] Now we have come to see that pleas- 
ure is the only thing . . . and I take it that on the whole it has proved the height of 
wisdom to substitute so many pleasures for a few outworn prejudices that net very 
little esteem and a great deal of annoyance [for] those who take them as their rule 
of life." For a good understanding of the French Revolution such a passage is 
worth more than no end of direct description. Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, com- 
bined with, let us say, the novels of George Sand, gives a clear and exact concep- 
tion of the epidemic of humanitarianism that swept all civilized countries during 
the nineteenth century. 


suits. So if we can find in the present a fact a similar to A, connected 
in a manner well known with another fact h, also well known and 
similar to B, we use the parallel to "explain" a. If we do find the 
actual "explanation" b, the result is favourable to our method, and 
if we can find numerous examples, we may conclude that it gives 
fairly probable results. But if in trying to explain a we do not find h, 
that fact warrants suspicion of our method — there is one exception, 
there may be others. If we find even relatively few exceptions, little 
probability remains.^ 

548. In general the unknown has to be explained by the known, 
and the past is therefore better explained by the present than the 
present is by the past, though the latter method was followed by the 
majority of writers in the beginnings of sociology and is still followed 
by many (§571). * 

549. A certain amount of interpretation is nearly always necessary. 
A person reporting a fact does so in his own language, adding little 
or much to it from his own sentiments. To get at the fact we have to 
divest what he says of such accessories. That will be sometimes easy, 
sometimes difficult; but we must never forget the necessity, or at 
least the utility, of doing it. Travellers translate the notions they 
hear expressed in the languages of the countries they visit into words 
and ideas of their own. Their accounts oftentimes are now more, 
now less, at variance with the facts; and it is necessary, when such a 

547 ^ We shall make frequent use of this method in the course of this work, 
so that we may. here dispense with giving examples. We have already made some 
use of it, however, in § 544. We used it also, implicitly, in investigating the rela- 
tions of the metaphysical method to experimental facts. Can that method lead, or 
can it not, to results verifiable by experience? Suppose we apply it to cases such as 
physics, celestial mechanics, or chemistry, where the experimental results are well 
known — or better yet, suppose we let Hegel do the applying, since he is so much 
admired by metaphysicists. If the metaphysical method leads to conclusions that 
are corroborated by long experience in those sciences, we shall have reasons for 
hoping that it will prove equally successful in other connexions — in social science, 
for instance, where experimental verifications are less practicable. If on the other 
hand, in physics, celestial mechanics, chemistry, it leads to conclusions that experi- 
ence proves to be senseless, fantastic, idiotic, we shall have reasons for fearing 
that it will yield no better results in the social or historical sciences (§§484f., 
502 f., 5142), 


thing is possible, to retranslate in the inverse direction to get at the 
real states of mind of the people the traveller is describing."^ 

550. Similarly, it is in many cases unsatisfactory to get facts for 
sociology from translations, and if possible one should refer to the 
original texts. As usual, one need not go from one extreme to an- 
other. There are cases in which, let alone a translation, even a mere 
abstract is sufficient. It all depends on whether conclusions are based 
on the exact meaning of one or more terms; if they are, reference to 
originals is indispensable.^ 

549 ^ Reviewing Junod's The Life of a South African Tribe, Vol. I, Social Life, 
in the Journal de Geneve, Aug. 25, 191 2, the distinguished Egyptologist Edouard 
Naville writes: "One of the aspects of M. Junod's book that may prove most useful 
to students of very ancient philology is language. Primitive peoples almost always 
express themselves through metaphor. Anything even distandy approximating the 
abstract has to be rendered by something susceptible of sense-perception. On the 
other hand some altogether crude or commonplace act may be designated by the 
religious or ritualistic significance attached to it. Anyone not holding the key to 
such riddles is in danger of going completely wrong in his interpretations of 
words or phrases. I note, for instance, a custom that has also been observed in 
Egypt — the burial of broken vases or other objects with bodies in tombs. The 
Bantus do the same. On the grave of a man who has died they break all objects 
of no further value that belonged to him — old pottery, especially, and the handles 
of zaga'ies. Everything his must die with him. That ceremony is called 'showing 
one's anger to the dead.' Now if we found such an expression as 'to show one's 
anger to the dead' in an Egypdan or Assyrian document, I doubt very much 
whether the most learned philologist would ever guess its true meaning: 'to break 
a dish.' I am afraid that, unfortunately, our translations may contain serious errors 
due to such ignorance. I believe that it is owing to such mistakes that many 
Egypdan texts, such as those in the Pyramids or the Boo\ of the Dead, seem often 
so strange and so childish. We have not found the key to the metaphors that 
abound, especially in religious language. M. Junod's book is packed with such ex- 
pressions. There are some on every page. I will mention two: 'to eat oxen' means 
to accept the purchase price, the lobola, of a wife, who may be bought for two, 
three, or even ten such animals. 'To eat two herds' is a legal term for wrongfully 
charging two lobola." 

550 ^ I have been very cautious in these volumes in quoting from languages I 
do not know. Such, for example, would be the case with the Talmud; though I 
hope the translations that I have used reproduce the text at least approximately. 
In any event, I refrain from any conclusion that might depend too much upon the 
strict meaning of some term. It would be very useful if some person who knows 
the oriental languages, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, and so on, would publish 
literal translations with philological notes of passages of texts serviceable to so- 
ciology. Until that is done, we shall have to feel our way along in the use we 
make of documents in those languages. Sumner Maine, Early History of Institutions. 


551. The more important difficulties in understanding facts from 
other periods of history or other peoples arise from our coming to 
them with the mental habits of our own countries and our own 
times. We live, for instance, in countries and times in which there 
are written laws with a public authority to enforce them. It is hard 
for us, therefore, to understand the conditions prevailing among 
peoples who have not laws like ours, but unwritten customs with no 
public authority to enforce their observance.^ By the very nature 

pp. 8-9: "There is, however, another more permanent and more serious cause of em- 
barrassment in drawing conclusions from these [old Irish] laws. Until compara- 
tively lately they were practically unintelligible; and they were restored to 
knowledge by the original translators. . . . The translations have been carefully 
revised by the learned editor of the Irish text; but it is probable that several gen- 
erations of Celtic scholars will have had to interchange criticisms on the language 
of the laws before the reader who approaches them without any pretension to Celtic 
scholarship can be quite sure that he has the exact meaning of every passage 
before him. ... In what follows I attempt to draw inferences only when the 
meaning and drift of the text seem reasonably certain, and I have avoided some 
promising lines of enquiry which would lead us through passages of doubtful 
signification." [One might note, a propos of this passage, that in actual practice, 
Pareto used translations very much as he found them, and, in the cases of the mod- 
ern languages, they were as often erroneous as not. Even a writer in his own lan- 
guage, Casati, he quotes in a garbled French translation. In the days when these 
volumes were in formation, scientific philology and textual criticism, as represented 
by the schools of Paul Meyer, Lanson and Bedier, were enjoying a virtual primacy 
in European university life. Pareto's efforts at textual criticism, especially in the 
classics, were made largely in deference to philological eminences which everyone, 
to use a phrase of Casanova, was ready to concede rather than go to the trouble of 
reading their books to see if their reputations were deserved. Pious enough in their 
intentions, those efforts were rarely prosecuted to decisive results and they remain, 
in the Trattato as well as in the Cottrs and the Maniiale, as somewhat of a pedantic 
pose. This is said in no spirit of irreverence for Pareto's truly exceptional and mar- 
vellously assimilated culture, especially in the classical literatures, but just to keep 
certain aspects of this work in the light in which they belong. — A. L.] 

551 ^ Maine, Ibid., p. 286: "The learned Editors of the various Introductions 
prefixed to the official publications of Ancient Irish Law are plainly of opinion that 
such jurisdiction as any Irish Courts possessed was, to use the technical phrase, 
voluntary. The Law of Distress, in this view, was clearly enough conceived by the 
Brehon lawyers, but it depended for the practical obedience which it obtained on 
the aid of public opinion and of popular respect for a professional caste. . . . (pp. 
38-39) Now, the want of a sanction is occasionally one of the greatest difficulties in 
understanding the Brehon law. Suppose a man disobeyed the rule or resisted its 
application, what would happen? The learned writer of one of the modern prefaces 
prefixed to the Third Volume of the Ancient Laws contends that the administra- 
tion of the Brehon system consisted in references to arbitration; and I certainly 



of their work scholars Uve partly in the past, their minds gradually 
acquire some of the habits of those periods, and so they are better 
able to understand the facts than people without that advantage. 
In our time, likewise, in certain cases there is a complete separation 
between fact and law — between, for instance, the fact of ownership 
and property right. There have been peoples and periods where fact 
and law in ownership were one and the same. In course of time 
the two were gradually divorced by a slow process of evolution, and 
now we find it difficult to picture one of the intermediary stages 
clearly to ourselves. 

552. But all that is insignificant as compared with the difficulties 
rising from intrusions of sentiments, aspirations, interests, and 

non-experimental entities of a metaphysical or theological character. 
The fact, indeed, that we simply must not rest satisfied with the 
appearances, often very misleading, that such things give to facts, but 
must get back somehow to facts themselves, is what is guiding us in 
these volumes and constraining us to follow such a long and 
fatiguing road. 

553. Probability of conclusions. Here we are called upon to find 
a solution for a problem of the kind solved by the calculus of proba- 
bilities, under the name of probabilities of causes. Take, for example, 
an urn containing a hundred balls, some of which are white, the 
others black — we do not know in what proportions, but we do know 
that all proportions are a priori equally probable. We draw a white 
ball. We are thereupon certain that all the balls are not black, but 
that all combinations allowing at least one white ball are possible. 
The probability that all the balls are white is 2/101 — very small, 
therefore. The probability that the white balls may number at least 

think myself that, so far as the system is known, it points to that conclusion. 
The one object of the Brehons was to force the disputants to refer their quarrels 
to a Brehon, or to some person in authority advised by a Brehon." Idem, Ancietit 
Law, pp. 7-8: "It is certain that, in the infancy of mankind, no sort of legislature, 
not even a distinct author of law, is contemplated or conceived of. Law has scarcely 
reached the foodng of custom; it is rather a habit. ... It is of course extremely 
difficult for us to realise a view so far removed from us in point both of time and 
of association. " 


fifty is 765/1010 — about three to one, that is. Now let us assume 
that according to some hypothetical law all the balls should be white. 
The drawing of a white ball corroborates the law in one instance. 
That verification gives the law a very small probability — about .02. 
The probability that the law will be verified more often than not is 
not very great either, being only about three to one. 

554. When the calculus of probabilities first began to be studied, 
there was hope that it might yield exact formulae for finding proba- 
bilities of causes. The hope proved groundless because we have no 
means of establishing any likeness between practical cases and draw- 
ings of one or more balls from an urn. We have no knowledge what- 
ever as to the number of balls in the urn, and little or none as to the 
a priori probabilities of the various combinations. Any help we might 
have hoped for from the calculus of probabilities fails, therefore; 
and we are reduced to evaluating probabiUties approximately in 
other ways. 

555. An extreme case would be the law of chemical combinations 
(§ 531). In that case we have an urn that very probably contains balls 
all of one colour. A single drawing is enough to determine the 
colour with great probability. We know, for instance, that all ele- 
ments very probably combine in definite proportions (the proportion 
would be the colour, in the case of the balls). One experiment is 
enough to determine the proportion — one drawing, that is, to de- 
termine the colour (§§97, 531)- 

556. When a fact, A, can be classed with other facts, it is a priori 
probable that it follows the laws they follow. A single verification 
therefore yields a high probability that that is so (§531)- The 
method, in other words, is first to observe similarities — then to verify. 
That is one of the methods most generally used for discovering ex- 
perimental laws. Just so Newton, by way of hypothesis, extended to 
the heavenly bodies the laws of motion established for terrestrial 
bodies. He then verified the assumption on the movements of the 
Moon around the Earth, and so discovered the law for celestial 
bodies. His successors continued making verifications, all with good 


results. Now, therefore, his laws have a very high degree of 

Modern etymologists were able to observe in the fact the suc- 
cessive changes in a Vulgar Latin word that had developed into a 
modern French or Italian word. On the principle of assimilation 
(similitude) they extended the supposed laws they had discovered to 
other words, made verifications, and so constituted the science of 
Romance phonology. 

The difficulty lies in establishing likenesses, because there is al- 
ways something more or less arbitrary about them. In this as in other 
matters we have to appeal to observation and experience, which 
alone can yield trustworthy data. One of the characteristic errors of 
ancient writers was to infer similarities in things from similarities in 

557. The principle of assimilation may yield apparently paradoxical 
solutions to some problems. Here is one such. Says Bertrand : ^ "Does 
not an uncertain event always have a definite probability, known or 
unknown ? — By no means ! What is the probability that it will rain 
tomorrow ? There is none. . . . The King of Siam is forty years old : 
what is the probability that he will be living ten years hence? It is 
different for me than for someone who has talked with his physician, 
different for the physician than for someone who has received his 
personal confidences." Bertrand's inference would be that a person 
betting on the death of the King of Siam within the year would in 
no way be guided by probabilities, since none exist; and that is 
correct up to a certain point. In fact to issue an insurance policy on 
the life of one person alone would simply be gambling; but to issue 
insurance, as insurance companies do, on large numbers of people is 
to base a financial operation on the laws of probabilities. It may very 
well be that keeping to strict probabilities nothing can be decided 
as to the King of Siam. However, supposing Bertrand found him- 
self behind the bars and were told: "You will not get out till either 
A or B dies. A is twenty years old, B sixty. Choose the man upon 
whose death you will have your liberty depend." We may guess that 

557 ^ Calcul des probabilitSs, pp. 90 f . 


Bertrand would choose B rather than A. Ought we say that he is 
choosing by chance, disregarding probabilities ? In general if a hap- 
pening P, assumed to be recurrent, is more probable than Q, shall 
we say that we are acting haphazard if, in the light of an interest, 
we elect a particular P in preference to a. Q? Bertrand would say yes, 
because we are making but one choice and cannot have another 
chance. "Whether the King of Siam live or die, you have but one 
bet." But we can have other chances on other men of the age of the 
King of Siam, or on other similar cases of eventual happenings. 

Let us assume that Pi and Qi, P2 and Q2, Ps and Qs . . . are en- 
tirely different happenings, but that Pi P2 . . . are alike in the one 
respect that they have a greater probability than ^i ^2 ... on the 
assumption that the test may be repeated. I may now state the prob- 
lem: In case I have only one choice between Pi and Qi, between P2 
and Qo, have I a greater probability of winning by choosing Pi P2 
. . . or Qi Q2 . . . ? The answer is not doubtful: It is better to 
choose Pi P2. . . . Of course Bertrand might perhaps have done 
better by staking his release on the death of the twenty-year-older. 
All the same, if he did that in all similar situations, if in every act 
of his life he selected the less probable outcome as the more favour- 
able, in cases where the test might be repeated, he would end by 
doing worse than he would have done by choosing the more prob- 
able outcome. 

Bertrand solves the problem differently. For him there are objec- 
tive probabilities and subjective probabilities. The type of the objec- 
tive would be an urn containing known numbers of black and white 
balls, from which one ball is to be drawn at a time. The type of the 
subjective would be an event such as the death of the King of Siam, 
which depends upon circumstances only partially known. Bertrand 
bars subjective probabilities from his calculations. 

558. That would amount to saying that it is just as well never 
to bother with probabilities and to act blindly in any event; for all 
probabilities are subjective, and the distinction that Bertrand would 
draw holds only as between a greater or a lesser amount of knowl- 


Says Bertrand, p. 90, "It will or will not rain [tomorrow]; one 
of the two events is certain right here and now, and the other im- 
possible. The physical forces on which rain depends are as rigidly 
determined and are subject to laws as inflexible as the laws govern- 
ing the planets. Would one dare inquire as to the probability of 
there being an eclipse of the Moon next month?" ^ Well — the same 
thing might be said of the drawing of a ball from an urn. The 
movements of the drawer are no less determined than the move- 
ments of the stars. The only difference is that we know how to cal- 
culate the latter but not the former. The regularity of certain move- 
ments depends upon the number of forces operating and the man- 
ner of their operation; and what we call manifestations of chance 
are the manifestations of numerous effects that are interwoven one 
with another. Bertrand himself gives the proof for that, p. xxiv: 
"The stamp of chance [That expression is wholly wanting in exact- 
ness.] is often imprinted, sometimes very curiously, on numbers 
that are inferred from the most rigorous laws. A table of logarithms 
is a case in point. For the 10,000 successive numbers in Vega's ten- 
place tables, I take the seventh figure in the logarithm. In this choice 
nothing is left to chance. Algebra governs everything; an inflexible 
law shackles all the figures. Nevertheless if one computes chances 
one should get, approximately, out of the 10,000 figures, the figure 
o 1,000 times, the figure i 1,000 times, and so for the rest of them: 
the formula conforms to the laws of chance [Interaction of causes]. 
Verification made, the seventh figure of the 10,000 logarithms was 
found 990 times to be o; 997 times to be i; 993 times to be 2; 1,012 
times to be 4." However, that would not happen for the last figures 
of a table of squares, which not only bar certain numbers but also 
succeed each other in a definite order — the following: o, i, 4, 9, 6, 5, 
6, 9, 4, I. The eclipse of the Moon, which Bertrand mentions, may 
be compared to this latter case — the determination of the last figure 

558 ^ And why not? Two men have no almanacs or calendars handy. One says 
to the other: "If it rains next month, you will give me ten dollars. If there is an 
eclipse of the Moon, I will give you ten." No one would accept such a wager; 
because ordinarily in our parts of the world it is more probable that it will rain 
during a certain month than that there will be an eclipse of the Moon. 



in squares; but the comparison holds only if the person who is try- 
ing to forecast the eclipse is adequately equipped in astronomy. If 
he is not, the eclipse of the Moon is a fortuitous happening the uni- 
formities of which he does not know. Drawing a ball from an urn 
may be compared to the first case, the seventh figure in Vega's 
logarithms; but naturally, only for a person who has a fairly ad- 
vanced knowledge of mathematics. A person who does not know 
what logarithms and squares are can foresee nothing. 

559. If a fact is certain (very probable) and is described with very 
great exactness, a theory developed with rigorous logic from it is 
also certain (has very great probability). Oftentimes the facts that 
sociology has to use have no high degree of probability and are, 
especially, not exact. Hence even though a rigorous logic be fol- 
lowed, a theory based on a single fact is not very probable ; and it is 
even less so when strict logic gives way to inductions in which senti- 
ments, "good sense," customary maxims, and the like, play a part. 
The remedy is to eliminate such inductions as far as possible, and 
then to consider not one but as many facts as possible — always judi- 
ciously, of course, as we have so many times cautioned (§§ 538 f.). 

560. To increase probabilities nothing is quite so effective as the 
ability to make direct verification — experience in the strict sense of 
experiment. That is the chief reason why the laws of chemistry and 
physics, and even of astronomy, are overwhelmingly probable. For 
astronomy the experience lies in the verification of the actual loca- 
tion of the stars in the positions assigned them by theory. To a lesser 
but still very considerable degree, the probability of laws not sus- 
ceptible of verification is enhanced if it can be shown that they are 
at least similar to other laws of which verifications occur. 

561. The number of persons from ancient times down to our own 
who have asserted that they have seen ghosts is enormous. If prob- 
abilities increased with the mere number of observations, the exist- 
ence of ghosts would have to be considered highly probable. Yet few 
people now believe in them. And why not? We must not answer 
the query by referring to alleged natural laws that would be vio- 
lated by the existence of ghosts. That would be reasoning in a circle. 


If the existence of ghosts could be proved, the laws would no longer 
stand. Nor can we say that apparitions are to be denied because they 
cannot be "explained." People who believe in ghosts or in other 
things just as mysterious can make the excellent rejoinder that 
neither can light (or electricity or magnetism) be "explained." Yet 
that in no way affects the reality of the facts that are assumed to 
prove their existence. The reality of a fact does not depend on the 
"explanation" that may be given of it.^ 

562. There are two cogent reasons why we do not believe (why 
we find very scant probability) in the existence of ghosts: 

1. Direct experiment very frequently fails. If a person does not 
believe in wireless telegraphy, he need only purchase a little appara- 
tus — they are for sale even in toy-shops — and he will see the thing 
take place before his eyes. There is no reason, therefore, for his be- 
lieving in it in advance. But if he wants to see a ghost, conjure up 
the Devil, or make some other experiment of that nature, he will 
succeed or fail according to the state of mind he is in. "Out with 
unbelievers!" cries thaumaturgy. "Look, ye unbelievers!" says logico- 
experimental science. 

2. There is no group of experimental facts with which appari- 
tions can be identified. If, for example, it were experimentally 
shown that the Devil can be conjured up, there would be a certain 
probability in favour of ghosts, and vice versa. But unfortunately 
none of the categories of the ghost variety are susceptible of experi- 
mental verifications; so, for the present, the existence of ghosts has 
a probability that is exceedingly scant. 

563. Following Newman, who was a cardinal of the Church, 
many authors have attached a great deal of importance to the cumu- 
lation of great numbers of independent slight probabilities as pro- 
ductive of a conviction of high probability.^ There is some truth in 

561 ^The terms "explain" and "explanation" are here taken as indicating the 
cause, origin, law of a thing. If, as sometimes happens, by "explain" or "explana- 
tion" we mean relating a fact to other similar facts, we should not be in the situa- 
tion here in question, but in the case examined in §§ 556-58. 

563 ^ Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Gramtnar of Assent, p. 288 (quoted by 
Mansion, Calctil des probabilites, p. 77): "It is plain that formal logical sequence 

§564 Newman's fallacy 341 

that. That is the advantage of basing a theory on many different 
facts. But it is also partly false, in that it does not take account of 
the cogent persuasiveness of the mere possibility of making verifica- 

564. Nev^^man thinks that an Englishman believes his country an 
island simply because of a cumulation of little probabilities.^ No, 
there is a more cogent reason, to wit, the possibility of a verification. 
It is not imperative that the person who believes England is an 
island should have made the verification himself, nor that he should 
know someone who had. The possibility of making one is enough, 
for then one could reason in this fashion : "What a reputation a man 
could make by proving that England is not an island! How much 
money that news would bring him! If no one has ever done such a 

is not in fact the method by which we are enabled to become certain of what is 
concrete [So far Newman is in accord with experimental science in the sense that 
experimental premises are necessary. Logic of itslf gives nothing.]; and it is equally 
plain, from what has been already suggested, what the real and necessary method 
is. It is the cumulation of probabilides, independent of each other [There is much 
truth in that.], arising out of the nature and circumstances of the particular case 
which is under review [And the nature of our researches, experiments, and obser- 
vations.]; probabilities too fine to avail separately, too subtle and circuitous to be 
convertible into syllogisms, too numerous and various for such conversion, even 
were they convertible" [That is true in some cases, untrue in others] . 

564 ^ Ibid., pp. 294-96 (Mansion, Op. cit., p. 79) : "We are all absolutely certain 
beyond the possibility of doubt, that Great Britain is an island. We give to that 
proposition our deliberate and unconditional adhesion. . . . We have no fear of 
any geographical discovery which may reverse our belief. . . . Yet are the argu- 
ments producible for it (to use the common expression) in black and white com- 
mensurate with this overpowering certitude about it."^ Our reasons for believing 
that we are circumnavigable are such as these: — first, we have been so taught in 
our childhood, and it is so in all maps; next, we have never heard it contradicted 
or questioned. [He should have added: "yet the doubt was permissible by law and 
by custom."] . . . However, negative arguments and circumstantial evidence are 
not all, in such a matter, which we have a right to require. They are not the high- 
est kind of proof possible. Those who have circumnavigated the island have a 
right to be certain: have we ever ourselves even fallen in with anyone who has? 
[An argument of scant value. The things we know directly or by direct testimony 
are very few as compared with the things we know indirectly.] ... I am not at 
all insinuating that we are not rational in our certitude; I only mean that we 
cannot analyze a proof satisfactorily, the result of which good sense actually guar- 
antees to us." [The French translator, P. Mansion, rendered "satisfactorily" by 
maniere complete. Pareto: "And what can ever be done completely.?" — A. L.] 


thing, it is reasonably safe to conclude that it cannot be done." Sup- 
pose a prize of $10,000,000 has been offered to the man who could 
find a wolf on the Isle of Wight and that during the last hundred 
years no one has won the prize. That alone, and without any cumu- 
lation of scant probabilities, would convince one oflhand that there 
were no wolves on the Isle of Wight. Suppose, on the other hand, 
the death-penalty awaited a man who said that England was an 
island or made any investigation in that direction. All of Newman's 
little probabilities would not dispel the doubt as to whether England 
were really an island. 

565. Newman's followers have a purpose. They are trying in that 
indirect way to build up a case for the truth of historical traditions, 
and especially of religious traditions. But belief in such traditions is 
in no way similar to belief that England is an island. The traditions 
have no possibility of verification. The other thesis has. It has been 
known for centuries that England is an island, whereas a hundred 
and fifty years ago many things in Roman history were considered 
true that are now considered mere legend ; and if the conclusions of 
Ettore Pais, the Italian scholar, are sound, we shall have to drop 
many other things from Roman history. 

566. In finding out what Roman customs were like no cumula- 
tion of little probabilities, however large, is worth one relic discov- 
ered at Pompeii that anyone can see with his own eyes and make 
sure of. 

567. According to Thucydides many Athenians were wrong as to 
the murder of Hipparchus (§541). Who could say how many other 
cases of the kind there must be, how many historical fictions we 
accept as true ? But there is no such doubt as to the existence of the 
United States, even for people who have never been there and do 
not know anyone who has — there is always the possibility of verifica- 
tion. That is enough, considering the great profit there would be in 
proving the common belief mistaken. 

568. From that it follows that before a theory can be considered 
true, it is virtually indispensable that there be perfect freedom to 
impugn it. Any limitation, even indirect and however remote, im- 


posed on anyone choosing to contradict it is enough to cast suspicion 
upon it. Hence freedom to express one's thought, even counter to 
the opinion of the majority or of all, even when it offends the senti- 
ments of the few or of the many, even when it is generally reputed 
absurd or criminal, always proves favourable to the discovery of ob- 
jective truth (accord of theory with fact). But that does not prove 
that such liberty is always favourable to good order in a society or 
to the advancement of political and economic prosperity and the 
like. It may or may not be, according to the case; and that is a 
problem we still have to go into. 

569. As far as establishing the experimental truth of a doctrine is 
concerned, there is no difference between the direct enforcement of 
acceptance of such a doctrine and the enforced acceptance of certain 
principles from which the doctrine follows. A constituted authority 
requires you to believe that 20 is equal to 24. Another comes along 
and says: "I am much more 'liberal'; I merely ask you to believe 
that 5 is equal to 6." It amounts to the same thing, for if 5 equals 
6, two equal numbers multiplied by the same number giving equal 
products, it follows that the products of 5 and 6 multiplied by 4 are 
equal, and 20 therefore is equal to 24. 

570. From the standpoint of scientific freedom, accordingly, Ca- 
tholicism, which enforces acceptance of doctrine directly, and Prot- 
estantism, which requires merely that it be derived from Scripture, 
have the same value. "Liberal Protestantism" nowadays believes that 
it has taken a step in the direction of scientific freedom by dispens- 
ing with belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture; but it still 
clings to belief in a certain ideal of perfection, and that is enough / ( 
to keep us out of the logico-experimental field. Nor can an excep- 
tion be made for humanitarian dogmas, nor for the dogmas of the 

sex religion so dear to Senator Berenger and other geniuses of the 
same magnitude. Let us keep the point strictly before us: There is 
no scientific liberty unless everything is open to doubt — even Euclid's 
geometry and three-dimensional space. It is ridiculous to say that one 
is disposed to grant liberty for "truth" but not liberty for "error"; 
for the point at issue is none other than to discover where the "truth" 



lies and where the "error"; and it cannot be settled if "error" cannot 
be defended by every possible reason that can be advanced in its 
favour. Only after such reasons have been validly refuted is judg- 
ment of error affirmed — pending further investigation. Many people 
fail to understand that, because in judging of truth or error they sub- 
stitute a criterion of sentiment for the logico-experimental criterion. 

571. The possibility of direct verifications, of new^ observations, is 
another reason for explaining facts of the past w^ith facts of the pres- 
ent, w^hich WG are able to observe at our leisure (§ 548). 

572. Take, for example, the follou^ing thesis : "In Athens political 
considerations and interests exerted a powerful influence upon 
judges in private litigations" (§545). We have direct proofs in the 
few pleas of counsel that have come down to us. Probability that 
the thesis is sound is increased by certain indirect evidence, such as 
allusions by Aristophanes (Wasps), and Herondas (§545^). But it 
increases enormously in view of similar things going on in our day 
in Italy and France. If a person is still in doubt, he may, in a cer- 
tain sense, make experiments. He can read the newspapers carefully 
and note cases in which such influence appears. He will find a 
goodly number of them every year and also see that for one reason 
or another not all of them get into the papers. He can then question 
people experienced in such matters and so placed as to be willing 
to tell the truth; and in that way, his direct induction will be con- 
firmed by an indirect method. 

573. Another example : There are those who say that witnesses in 
ages past to miracles or other supernatural happenings testified in 
bad faith. But what is the situation in our own time.? Let us make 
an experiment! It will not be difficult to find among our acquaint- 
ances persons whom we know to be altogether honest yet who none 
the less assert that they have been in communication with spirits. 
Our age is sceptical. Past ages were credulous. The same thing must 
therefore have been the case, and even more easily, in the past. 

574. Class 3 (as outlined in § 523) : Propositions that either add 
something to experimental uniformities or ignore them. The prob- 
lem is to determine the manner in which non-experimental prin- 


ciples influence theories, which, therefore, considered from the ob- 
jective standpoint belong to Class II (§ 13). It is helpful to dis- 
tinguish the case A, in which the introduction of non-experimental 
elements is explicit, from the case B, in which they are merely im- 
plicit. We are thinking of principal elements, of course. In concrete 
cases there may be a mixture of experimental and non-experimental 
elements. Just here we are considering cases where something is 
added to experimental uniformities, or where they are ignored.^ 
Authority, for example, is here considered from the standpoint of 
what it adds to experimental uniformities.^ The same may be said 
of un'iverscd consensus, the consensus of the majority, of the best- 
qualified individuals, and so on. 

575. Under the aspect which we are now considering, we may 
classify types in the following manner: 


A. The abstract entities are explicitly introduced and are known in- 
dependently of experience. Such knowledge is superior to ex- 
perimental knowledge (§§ 576-632) 

A-a. Experience is given little or no place (§§ 582-612) 

A-ai. Authority: divine authority, known through one or 
more individuals; authority of one or more individ- 
uals (§§ 583-90) 

A-a2. Consensus of a number of individuals who are 
counted or weighed, or of mind in the abstract ("the 
mind") (§§591-612) 

A-/3. Abstractions and principles determined Independently of 
experience are incidentally and secondarily supported by ex- 
perience (§§ 613-30) 

A-v. Great importance is attached to experience, or there is a 

574 '^ We shall meet with some of these types again in Chapters IX and X, 
and there examine the methods whereby, quite apart from logico-experimental in- 
ferences, certain conclusions are arrived at (§ 1397). 

574 ^ In Chapters IX and X we shall consider the use that is made of authority 
in forcing acceptance of certain conclusions. 


pretence of doing so. However, it is always in a subordinate 
role (§§ 631-32) 

B. The extra-experimental origin of the abstract entities that are in- 
troduced is not explicitly stated. Either they are mere abstrac- 
tions arbitrarily deduced from experience, or else they have an 
independent existence that implicitly may be non-experimental 
(§§ 641-796) 

B-a. Myths, religious narratives, and other legends of the kind 
are historically real (§§ 643-61): 

B-a I. Myths and the like taken literally without change 

(§§ 650-60) 
B-a2. Myths and the like with slight and easy alterations 

in literal meanings (§ 661) 

B-3. Myths and the like have a historical element combined with 
an unreal element (§§ 662-763) : 

B-/?i. Myths and the like have historical origins, and the 
stories have undergone alterations in course of time 
B-/?2. Myths and the like are made up of experiences 
wrongly interpreted and fallacious inferences from 
real facts (§§ 692-719) 

B-^3. Historical facts are deviations from a type, or consti- 
tute a series with a limit or asymptote (in the mathe- 
matical sense) (§§720-32) 

B-3^' Myths and the like are imitations of other myths. 
Two or more similar institutions are imitations of 
each other (§§ 733-63) 

B-^. Myths and the like are entirely non-real (§§ 764-96).^ 

576. A: Abstract entities are explicitly introduced and are \nown 
independently of experience. Such \nowledge is superior to experi- 
mental kjtowledge. In that we have the chief characteristic of the 

575 ^ We are to study the category A in this chapter; category B in the chap- 
ter following. 


type. If, for instance, the thesis of unitary evolution be derived from 
experience we get a theory of Class I (§ 13). If the thesis be assumed 
a priori, wt get a theory of Class II (§ 13). Generally in this case the 
principle is not deliberately removed from the experimental field. It 
is taken as self-evident, and one goes on from there, slipping un- 
w^ittingly into a type B theory (§575). If, on the other hand, a "nat- 
ural lavi'" required by "natural reason" be assumed, one may talk 
about experience as much as one pleases : the theory will still remain 
in our group A above, because the naturalis ratio is superior to ex- 
perience, and experience is allowed to confirm its dictates but never ' 
to contradict them. 

577. At a given moment the centre of the Earth is at a certain dis- 
tance from the centre of the Sun. Since the distance does not vary 
greatly, one can define (an arbitrary procedure) a roughly average 
distance and call it the distance between the Earth and the Sun. 
It may be hard to find such a thing, but it undoubtedly exists, and 
one can look for it experimentally. 

578. But suppose we set out to discover who Jupiter is. The sus- 
picion at once arises that the thing we are looking for may not exist. 
And even if we try to find what conception the Romans had of 
Jupiter, we may still be looking for something that never existed — 
there may have been more than one such conception. We can, in- 
deed, following the method used above, outline a roughly average 
conception, and such a Jupiter, in part an arbitrary creation of our 
own (§ 103), can then be sought and found. 

579. The belief that certain abstract entities exist independently of 
experience, and are not products of a partially arbitrary abstraction, 
is so self-evident, and so deeply rooted in the minds of most human , 
beings, that the non-logical sentiment underlying it must be a very 
powerful one indeed. So we glimpse thus early one principle that \ 
may serve to guide us in a classification of social facts with reference 
to the determination of the social equilibrium. Moreover, since the 
belief has gone hand in hand with the progress of human societies, 
we are justified in surmising that however false it may be experi- 


mentally, it may play a role of some practical advantage in social 

580. In dividing the theories of category A into genera, we may 
take as criteria the varying proportions of experimental inferences 
that they contain, starting from an extreme, A-a, in vv^hich there is 
little or none, going on through an intermediate genus, A-/3, in 
w^hich experience is mixed with other considerations, and arriving 
at another extreme, K-y, in which, apparently at least, experimental 
considerations predominate. 

By "experience" (§6) we here mean direct experience and ob- 
servation. A person might say that he is going by experience (or 
observation) when he tries to find out from the Bible whether 
, touching the Ark of the Lord leads to death and accepts that testi- 
mony without daring to doubt it or criticize it. Be it so — we are not 
going to argue over names. But just to prevent misunderstandings, 
we warn the reader that that is not the sense which we attach to the 
word "experience" (or "observation"), which here means either 
direct observation, or observation at second hand through testimony 
that has been sifted, discussed, criticized, as to whether people who 
touch the Ark of the Lord die or live on (§ 1482). 

58L The motives we have for accepting an opinion are either ex- 
ternal or "inner." The external motives, in addition to rigorously 
scientific experience, which we are not considering here, are chiefly 
authority and the consensus of other human beings, whether real or 
imaginary, with an appeal to "the mind" — to mind in the abstract. 
So we get our two genera A-ai, A-a2. The inner motives come down 
to accords with sentiments. They yield phenomena in which experi- 
ence plays no part whatever, such as "living faith," which goes so 
far as to declare that it believes a certain thing because it is absurd. 
We are not going to deal with them just here, since we are now 
examining nothing but the means of logicalizing the non-logical. 
The living faith just spoken of is non-logical, but no attempt is made 

579 '^ For the moment we can come to no conclusion on the point; but we are 
tempted to call attention to the possibility, in order to forestall the hasty inference 
that because we were rejecting the belief from the experimental standpoint we 
were intending to condemn it also from the social standpoint (§§ 72 f., 311). 


to disguise it as logical. In the concrete case of a taboo without sanc- 
tion there is, in a first stage, a preponderant element of living faith 
by virtue of which one believes without asking for reasons. It is pos- 
sible, in a later stage, to discern the germ of a logical explanation, 
which is purely verbal and comes down to the bare statement: "We 
must do so and so because that is what we must do." ^ 

Inner motives present other phenomena in which experience seems 
to play a part, and so we get the genera A-^^ and A-y, and in addi- 
tion, an element, primary or secondary, of category B. The sem- 
blance of experience is obtained either by assuming that what is 
really a product of sentiment is confirmed by experience, or else by 
effecting a confusion between objective experience and the expres- 
sion of sentiment. This reasoning when pushed to the extreme gives 
us the introspection of the metaphysicists, which is nowadays assum- 
ing the new name of "religious experience" — the experience of the 
neo-Christians. In that way the person who frames the theory be- 
comes judge (§ 17) and pleader at one time. The theory is judged 
by the sentiment that creates it, and the accord therefore cannot be 
other than perfect, and the judgment other than favourable (§ 592). 
But things are different when the judge is objective experience, 
which can, as it often does, deny the theory built up on sentiment — 
the judge is different from the pleader. 

582. A-a: Experience is given little or no place. This substantially 
is the position of theologies and systems of metaphysics. The ex- 
treme case is the sanctionless taboo just mentioned, when one says, 
"You must do so and so, because you must." Then pseudo-logical 
fringes are appended in greater and greater abundance, until long 
legends or disquisitions are elaborated. As means of demonstration 
these pseudo-logical developments make lavish use of authority and 
universal consensus. 

583. A-ai: Authority, Just here we are considering authority 
merely as an instrument for logicalizing non-logical actions and the 

581 ^ Viewed under this aspect we might make casual note of this case under 
category A, leaving a more thorough study of it for Chapter IX, where we shall 
consider in their general aspects the explanations that human beings give of their 


sentiments in which they originate.^ Divine revelation in so far as 
it is not considered a historical fact (B-a), belongs to this subvariety, 
as do also the divine injunction and the divine prophecy. After all, 
such things emanate strictly from human beings; and if we look 
closely we see that the point about divine will is made merely to 
justify the concession of authority to the individual represented as 
an interpreter of that will." The Mohammedans accepted the au- 
thority of Mohammed just as educated people at a certain period in 
our history accepted the authority of Aristotle. The Mohammedans 
explained their acceptance on the basis of Mohammed's divine in- 
spiration. The Christians pointed to the profound knowledge of the 
Stagirite. The two explanations are of an identical character. So it 
is easy to understand how they could be combined in periods of un- 
enlightenment, and how the Virgil admired as a poet could become 
the wonder-working magician of the Middle Ages (§§668f.). 

584. Authority is frequently presented as an adjunct to other dem- 
onstrations. Its meaning, in such a case, is roughly as follows: "The 
facts we mention are so well known, the arguments we put forward 
so convincing, that they are accepted by everyone, or at least by all 
educated and intelligent people." That method of reasoning was 

583 ^ To the general discussion of authority we shall return in Chapter IX. 

583 ^ St. Augustine does, it is true, make a distinction between divine and 
human authority; but he goes on to point out that divine authority is known to 
us only through human beings and their writings. De or dine {Opera, Vol. I, p. 977), 
II, 9, 27: "Authority is partly divine, partly human; but the true, the fixed, the su- 
preme authority is the one called divine." But those infernal demons are always on 
hand to lead us astray! "We must always be on our guard against the wondrous de- 
ceptions of aerial creatures, which are wont to deceive [human] souls — and very 
readily — by certain powers they have, notably their ability to foresee things within 
reach of the senses of their [aerial] bodies. . . . That authority, therefore, is to be 
called divine which not only transcends all human faculties in its sensible signs, but 
by its influence upon man {ipsiim hominem agens) shows him how far it has 
deigned to stoop {quo usque se depresserit) on his account. Human authority, 
however, is often mistaken." But how are we to recognize the authority that is 
divine? De vera religione {Opera, Vol. Ill, p. 121), 25, 46: "God has seen fit that 
His intentions with the human race {quid agatur cum genere humano) should be 
made known through history and prophecy. But the credibility {fides) of tem- 
poral things past or future is a matter rather of faith than of knowledge; and it is 
our affair to decide to what individuals or what books we shall pin our faith for 
the proper worship of God, in which alone salvation lies." 


widely used to prove the existence of witches, ghosts, and the Hke.^ 
585. The Protestant who sincerely accepts the authority of the 
Scriptures and the Catholic who defers to the Pope pronouncing 
ex cathedra are both doing the same thing under different forms. 
So also the humanitarian who swoons over a passage of Rousseau; 
so the socialist who swears by the Word of Marx or Engels as a 
treasure-store of all human knowledge; and so, further, the devout 
democraLwho bows reverent head and submits judgment and will 
to the oracles of suffrage, universal or limited, or what is worse, to 
the pronouncements of parliaments and legislatures, though they are 
known to house not a few politicians of unsavoury reputation/ Each 
of such believers of course considers his own beliefs rational and other 
beliefs absurd. The man who admits the infallibility of universal 
suffrage as manifested by somewhat moth-eaten politicians flames 
with scorn at the mere thought that anyone can believe in the in- 
fallibility of the Pope, and demands that Catholics be deprived of 
the right to teach in the schools because their judgments are not 
"free." On the other hand, the judgment of a person who changes 

584 ^ We shall revert to this matter in §§ 1438 f. 

585 ^ One example from the host available: In Italy there was a great deal of 
opposition to a proposed bill giving a monopoly in life insurance to the State. It 
was alleged, among other things, that the mortality statistics used by the Govern- 
ment were not accurate. That was a scientific conti^oversy, exactly parallel to Gali- 
leo's quarrel with the Inquisition as to the rotation of the Sun. The law being 
passed by the parliament, all controversies, the scientific included, were assumed to 
be settled, and on Sept. 16, 1912, the Giornale d'ltalia published the following 
editorial: "As is well known, this newspaper has not been in favour of the in- 
surance monopoly, basing its opposition on the economic theories of which Deputy 
Nitti has always been the avowed champion, on self-evident considerations of jus- 
dee, and, finally, on considerations of expediency that, unfortunately, had to be 
given great weight in view of the hostility of European finance to Italy during the 
[Libyan] war. But our opposition ended the day the insurance monopoly was voted 
by the two houses of the parliament, because of our great and never disputed def- 
erence to the laws of the State. Now the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni has 
become a fact, as a state property, as a possession of the nation at large. All Italians 
who love their country must therefore hope that it will actually realize the pur- 
poses for which the law has established it, that it may extend the practical benefits 
of insurance to the people generally and become a potent factor in the economic 
progress of our country." One can detect not the slightest difference between that 
atdtude and the attitude of the Catholic who, once the Pope has spoken ex cathedra, 
submits judgment and will to the Pope's decision. 


views not from personal conviction, but in deference to the 
oracles of a political assembly, enjoys, it w^ould seem, the quintes- 
sence of "freedom." 

586. A person interested in arguments only as regards their logico- 
experimental force might suppose that when people are stocking up 
with such postulates they would see to it that they be as exact as 
possible and lend themselves to strictly logical development. But 
experience has shown that that is not the case, nor ought the fact 
seem surprising to anyone mindful of the logic of sentiments 
(§ 514). For purposes of persuasion postulates that may mean any- 
thing simply because they mean nothing exact are the best imagi- 
nable. And it is a matter of observation that different and sometimes 
opposite conclusions are often drawn from them. Oftentimes, be- 
sides, postulates of our A-ai variety are combined and confused with 
postulates of our A-a2 variety. The logical element is often better in 
A-ai than in A-a2. 

587. An example or two of opposite conclusions drawn from the 
same principle.^ There is a wide-spread belief that water and fire 
are pure and sacred. From it the Hindus conclude that the bodies 
of the dead ought to be either burned or thrown into the Ganges. 
The Parsees conclude, to the precise contrary, that neither fire nor 
water should be defiled through contact with a corpse.^ It seems that 
in India cremation was not the absolute rule. It has, however, re- 
mained the principal means of disposing of the dead. The corpse is 

587 ^ We shall be meeting others from time to time as we go on, for example, 
in §873. 

587 ^ Henry, Le parsisme, p. 16: "The Persians, as is well known, reject crema- 
tion after death as a horrible profanation. Here again let us stress the identity of 
standpoint underlying an altogether superficial antagonism. The common epithet 
of the Vedic Agni is pavaka, 'the purifier.' Fire, say the Brahmans, is a thing es- 
sentially 'pure.' The dead body therefore must go through fire and leave all its 
impurities there, that the deceased may enter the eternal realm of Yama thor- 
oughly cleansed. Thereafter the fire that has been so contaminated can be relieved 
of its noxious properties by a rite of lustration. Fire, reply the Mazdeans, is a thing 
essentially pure. Who, then, would dare violate its sanctity by thrusting upon it the 
abominable task of devouring the most loathsome thing in the world, a corpse in 
process of putrefaction .? Arguments carried to extremes that touch are common 
enough in mysdcal systems." 


laid on a pyre that has been reared in the midst of three fires kindled 
from the three sacred fires of the deceased (in case he has kept them 
burning). There it is burned with certain ceremonies that need not 
concern us here. "As fire watches over the Hindu's birth, so it 
watches over the fundamental phases of his life." ^ Corpses are still 
burned in India in our times. Says Sonnerat : * "As soon as the pyre 
has burned out, milk is sprinkled over the ashes, and the bones that 
have been spared by the fire are gathered up, put into urns, and kept 
till occasion offers to throw them into some sacred stream, or into 
the Ganges. The Hindus are convinced that the man whose bones 
get into a sacred river will enjoy infinite bliss for millions of years. 
Those living on the river-banks often throw corpses into the water 
whole, after hastening death by making the sick drink all the water 
they can hold, since they attribute miraculous properties to it." ^ 

Herodotus, Historicte, I, 140, discourses on the Persian, or at least 
the Magian, custom of having dead bodies devoured by birds or 
dogs. An epigram by Dioscorides says : ^ "O, burn not Euphrates, 
nor defile the fire in my person, O Philonimes. I am a Persian, yea, 
O my master, of the native Persian stock. To pollute fire is for us 
more bitter than grievous death. But wrap me in a shroud and give 
me to the earth. Nor do thou sprinkle my body with water, for I 
worship, O my master, the streams also." " Chardin describes the 
cemetery of the Parsees at Ispahan in Persia where bodies are ex- 
posed to ravens and birds of prey.^ 

587 3 Oldenberg, Religion des Veda, p. 338. 

587 ■* Voyage aux hides orientales. Vol. I, p. 92. 

587 ^ On p. 85 he remarks: "The Brahmans who worship Vishnu believe that 
the fire purifies them of their sins. Devotees of Siva (Chit/en) claim that since 
they have been consecrated to the service of the god they do not need to go 
through fire, the sins they may have committed not being 'imputable to them. It is 
sufficient if they be sprinkled with lustral water, of which they make lavish use." 

587 ^Gree\ Anthology, VII, 162 (Paton, Vol. II, p. 91). 

587 ^ Pliny relates that Tiridates refused to go to Rome by sea in order not to 
pollute the water by his physical necessities, Historia naturalis, XXX, 6 (Bostock- 
Riley, Vol. V, p. 428) : "Navigare noluerat, quoniam exptiere in maria aliisqt(e 
mortalium necessitatibiis violare natiiram earn fas non putant." 

587 ^ Sir John Chardin, Voyage en Perse, pp. gi.: "I shall describe a cemetery 
they have half a league outside the city of Ispahan in a very out-of-the-way locality. 
It is a circular tower made of heavy rough-hewn stones, and about thirty-five feet 


588. Lack of definiteness in the premises explains how different 
conclusions may be drawn from them, but it does not explain why 
they are drawn; and in many cases we have no way of knowing 
whether the authority is the source of belief, or the belief (or rather, 
the sentiments underlying it) is the source of the authority. In many 
many other cases it is apparent that there has been a sequence of 
actions and reactions. Certain sentiments lead to the acceptance of 
a certain authority, and the latter in its turn reinforces the senti- 
ments or modifies them; and so on over again. 

589. The authority may be of one or more individuals; and if it 

high and ninety in diameter. There is no door or other entrance. . . . When a 
body is to be placed in that tomb three or four of their priests climb to the top of 
the wall with ladders, hoist the corpse up with a rope and let it down inside 
along the upper shelf. . . . There is a sort of trench in the middle, which I saw 
to be full of bones and garments. The dead are laid fully clothed on little stretchers 
and placed side by side, so close as to touch, all around the tower and close up to 
the wall. ... I could see bodies recently arrived, and still intact as to the feet 
and hands, which were naked; but much disfigured about the face, because the 
crows which flock about the cemetery and live by hundreds in the immediate 
neighbourhood attack that part of the body first. . . . Some fifty paces from the 
tower stands a little stone house , . . whence the high-priest watches to see in 
just what manner and on what part of the body the crows begin their work. . . . 
He does not have to wait long, for at least some bird will soon alight on the corpse 
and begin at the eyes. ... In order not to frighten the scavenger the priest per- 
forms his observation through a litde hole, noting which eye is first attacked and 
under what circumstances, basing thereon conjectures as to the status of the de- 
ceased in the other world and the future of his children and heirs in this. The 
right side is supposed to be the good one. ... So I was told generally in all the 
countries where there are Parsees; but then again I have met individuals who 
denied all such magic or superstidon." 

If a man who does not know how to swim or is unable to do so is thrown into 
the water, he sinks and is drowned. However, in a day gone by it was held that if 
he floated it was because he was innocent. It was also held that it was because he 
was guilty (§956). Father Le Brun, in his Histoire critique des pratiques super- 
stitieuses. Vol. II, pp. 256 f., notes the striking contradiction. He mentions cases 
where innocent people floated: "The defendant, a woman, was tied the way victims 
used to be ded for the cold-water test, and hurled from the top of a very high 
bridge into the river; but by the intercession of the Holy Virgin she remained afloat 
and the current bore her safe and sound to the shore. ... It is quite clear that 
such miracles stand in conflict with the cold-water test. They kept the innocent 
afloat through a visible protecdon of God that has been made manifest in a hun- 
dred other such miracles. But by a surprising whimsicality that caused the adoption 
of the cold-water test, some were of opinion that innocent people sank in the water, 
while only the guilty kept afloat." 


is confirmed by direct observation, it does not overstep our subvari- 
ety A-ai. Yet oftentimes the consensus is not based upon direct ob- 
servation, but is merely taken for granted on the basis of certain 
sentiments held by the person asserting it; and then we get an 
instance of our subvariety A-a2. That is the case when there is an 
appeal to "universal consensus." It is certain that no one has ever 
been able to establish any such consensus by consulting all the 
human beings who have lived or are living on earth, and that the 
majority of them would not even understand the questions to which 
they are presumed to have given all the same answer. Such a claim, 
therefore, has to be translated somewhat in this fashion: "The thing, 
in my opinion, ought to enjoy universal assent," or else, ". . . the 
universal assent of people whom I consider wise, sensible, well-in- 
formed," and the like. The second assertion is by no means the same 
as the first. 

590. The principle of authority holds even in our present-day so- 
cieties, not only for the ignorant, and not only touching matters of 
religion and morality, but even in the sciences, especially in those 
branches with which a person is not directly familiar. Comte made 
this point very clearly, though he later drew erroneous consequences 
from it. 

591. A-a2: Consensus of a number of individuals who are counted 
or weighed; or of mind in the abstract ("the mind"). The consensus 
may be invoked to show that certain things are inconceivable — an 
"infinite" straight line, for example. That is the situation in scientific 
or metaphysical abstraction, and we are not concerned with it here. 
On the other hand, the consensus may be alleged with reference to 
propositions the contraries of which are perfectly conceivable — the 
existence of gods, for instance. That situation does lie within our 

If universal consensus, or the consensus of a majority or even of 
a few, is explicitly adduced as testimony to experience, we get the 
narrations of experimental science or, if the testimony overreaches 
experience, narrations of our group B. Here we are to deal with 
those cases only in which the consensus operates in and of itself and 


is put above experience. It may involve two things foreign to the 
experimental domain: (i) the fact of consensus; (2) the implica- 
itions of the fact. 

592. I. The fact of consensus. It might be proved by statistics — a 
certain number of individuals are questioned and their answ^ers 
noted. In such a case the fact would be experimental. But generally 
that is not done; the consensus is taken for granted, or at the most 
verified by some hasty experimental or pseudo-experimental investi- 
gation. When the consensus is alleged to be of "all men," experi- 
mental proof is absolutely out of the question, even when the "all" 
is limited to living persons without reference to the dead. It is im- 
possible to question all human beings living on earth, or to make 
many of them even understand the questions for which an answer 
is desired. The same applies to a consensus of majorities, even if 
totals are confined to a specified territory. 

To avoid such embarrassments, epithets are commonly resorted 
to: the consensus invoked is the consensus of all "intelligent," "ra- 
tional," "honest" men, or the majority of them (§462). Then di- 
rectly or indirectly one recognizes as intelligent, rational, honest, 
only people who share the opinion that has been decorated with the 
universal consensus (§ 1556); and so, by a splendid reasoning in a 
circle, it is undeniable that the opinion enjoys that consensus in fact. 

To avoid the circle, it would be necessary for the qualities re- 
quired in the people consulted to be independent of the opinions 
and determined only by general considerations, such as competence 
in given connexions. So one might invite the opinion of a farmer 
as to a given crop, and the opinion of a scientist on a problem in 
science; and that would be taking us from the question of consensus 
back to the question of authority. To remove the embarrassment of 
statistics not possibly obtainable and still to escape faUing into the 
circle, the appeal is made to an abstract, undefined, and undefinable 
"mind," which is, after all, the mind of the person claiming the con- 
sensus, presuming the latter from the assent of his own mind, which 
he baptizes as "mind" in the abstract. So we get the introspection of 
the metaphysicists and of their successors, the neo-Christians. From 



the counted vote, which it is impossible to obtain, we move over to 
the assent that is weighed with loaded scales, and the number of 
the votes gradually comes down to the single vote of the person who 
started the voting in order to prove his theory (§§402f., 427). All 
that takes us outside the domain of experience, which could alone 
show the alleged consensus either of all men or of the majority of 
men, or even of certain individuals selected for qualities independent 
of the opinion desired. 

593. 2. The consequences of the fact. Let us assume the hypothe- 
sis most favourable for the purpose in view and suppose that the fact 
of consensus has been substantiated by experience to a fair degree 
of probability.^ It is ordinarily inferred that the idea expressed in 
the consensus must all of itself correspond to reality; in fact for 
some metaphysicists it is reality. Even if they no more than assert 
a necessary correspondence with experimental reality, they are over- 
stepping the bounds of experience. Experience by no means shows 
that when a very large number of people have an opinion that opin- 
ion corresponds to reality. All the way along from the belief that the 
Sun plunged into the ocean at night down to the countless beliefs in 
magic, we have examples of manifest errors that have been regarded 
as truths by vast numbers of people. When therefore one asserts that 
the opinion of the majority is in accord with experience, one is quit- 
ting the domain of experience. Such an assertion can be accepted 
only on non-experimental grounds (§42). 

Here, again, the reasoning in a circle helps. If the objection is 
raised that human beings in large numbers have believed in witches, 
we answer that such people were neither intelligent nor well in- 
formed; and if we are asked how the intelligent and the well-in- 
formed are to be recognized, we reply that they are people who be- 
lieve only in things that are real. After that we are in a position to 
assert in all confidence that the opinions of intelligent and well- 
informed people always correspond with realities (§ 441). 

593 ^ As we have already said (§591), we are here ignoring the scientific case 
in which the probable existence of such an experience is inferable from the con- 


If, to avoid the circle, we resort to the consensus of "competent" 
individuals, the competence being determined independently of the 
opinions desired, we are still left outside the domain of experience 
if we assert that their opinions are in accord with reality. Experience 
shows that the opinions of the "competent" are oftentimes wholly 
at variance with realities, and the history of science is the history of 
the errors of experts. Such opinions may therefore be used only as 
indicating a greater or a lesser probability of an accord between a 
theory and reality, the chances varying with the state of knowledge 
and the competence of the individuals expressing the opinions — 
never as an experimental proof of the theory, which can be furnished 
only by direct or indirect experience — and if that fact is not taken 
into account, we depart from the logico-experimental field. In the 
logico-experimental sciences the prerogative of judging (§ 17) be- 
longs to experience. In certain cases it may be delegated to "com- 
petent" experts, provided they be chosen in a manner independent 
of the character of the reply desired; provided the problem sub- 
mitted to them be stated with adequate clarity; provided they be 
truly acting as representatives of experience and not of this or that 
creed; and provided, finally, their decision may always be appealed 
to the supreme tribunal of experience. 

594. When, again, the method chosen is to assert that universal 
consensus is itself reality, "creates" reality, it is generally understood 
that such consensus is not of human beings of flesh and blood, but 
of a certain ideal man; not of the minds of individuals taken one by 
one, but of an abstraction called the "human mind," or "the mind." 
And since the metaphysicist fashions the abstraction to suit himself, 
it is obvious that in gratitude to its creator it will eventually assent 
to anything he pleases.^ Thence, in due course, arise such formulas 

594 ^ Controversies as to the correspondence of concepts to objective reality are 
nowadays confined to metaphysics and its appendages in the social sciences. In days 
gone by they were very common in the natural sciences. Even geography was 
affected by that disease, as witness Strabo, Geographica, I, 4, 7-8 (Jones, Vol. I, 
pp. 245-47). He quotes Eratosthenes, who was claiming that disputes as to the 
precise boundaries of the continents were a waste of time because, there being no 
exact boundaries, such territories could not be divided off exactly. But Strabo comes 
back, saying among other things: "Who, in speaking of three parts and calling 


as that the "inconceivable" does not exist, or that to know a thing 
one has to "think" it. The correspondence between the notions of 
the abstract mind (which in the end proves to be the mind of the 
author of the theory) and reaUty becomes self-evident, either be- 
cause such ideas are in themselves reality, or because, if some little 
room is graciously made for experience, the mind creating the theory 
appears as both pleader and judge (§581). 

595. In the concrete cases of arguments appealing to universal or 
majority consensus, experience is overreached in the two ways men- 
tioned: by presuming an assent that is not experimental, and 
by drawing from it inferences that are not experimental either. All 
reasonings of the kind are further wanting in the trait of definite- 
ness. Anything calculated to lend precision or strictness to the theory 
is left unexpressed. Much is made of universal or majority consensus 
without any inkling being given as to how it has been obtained, 
whether opinions have been counted or weighed, how and why it is 
presumed. Commonly, one gets vague formulas such as: "Every- 
body knows . . ." "Every honest man admits . . ." "No intelligent 
person denies . . ." The most patent contradictions are purposely 
disregarded. Universal consensus is adduced to prove the existence 
of God to an atheist, overleaping the fact that the very existence of 
the atheist who is to be converted, or controverted, destroys the uni- 
versality of the assent. 

The theory that the conceptions of "mind" in the abstract must 
necessarily accord with experience is explicitly stated only by some 
rare metaphysicist. Ordinarily it is slipped in implicitly. When one 
asserts that "everybody knows," that "nobody denies," that A = B, 
it is insinuated or suggested, rather than shown, that experimentally 
A and B will prove to be equivalents (§ 493). 

each of them a continent, has not first had the idea of the whole that he is 
dividing into such parts?" He then goes on with an argument that forces a smile: 
"If there are two princes, one of whom claims all Libya and the other all Asia, 
how decide which of them is to get Lower Egypt?" Poor Strabo must have been 
momentarily out of his mind! He lived at the time of the Roman Empire, and 
he might have remembered that such disputes were settled not by the arguments of 
geographers but by force of arms. 


596. All that is left loose and indeterminate; for if it were made 
definite and positive, the fallacy in the reasoning would become 
apparent. When it is asserted that human beings and animals have 
a certain law in common (§§ 419, 421, 449), we are not told exactly 
to what thing or things the term "law" is applied; whether by 
"human beings" and "animals" all men and all animals are meant, 
or only some, and how they are selected; on what observations of 
fact the assertion is based; and what conclusions are to be drawn, 
scientifically, from the supposedly established existence of such a 
law common to men and animals. All that is, and is left, wrapped 
in fog, and the argument in which such indefinite terms figure can 
appeal only to sentiments. 

597. . If the facts are considered in themselves, it may seem strange 
that educated and intelligent people could ever have imagined that 
experimental uniformities were to be discovered in any such way; 
stranger still that they should have had so many disciples, and their 
theories been admired — I do not say understood — by hosts and hosts 
of people ; and strangest of all that there should be those who think 
they understand disquisitions on the "one" and the "multiple," for- 
mulas such as the "Being creates beings" of Gioberti, or abstrac- 
tions such as that "goodwill" of Kant which "is esteemed to be good 
not by the effects which it produces, not by its fitness for accomplish- 
ing any given end, but by its mere good volition — i.e., it is good in 
itself" (Semple translation).^ 

598. But since, far from being singular, strange, extraordinary, 

such cases are common, ordinary, the rule, they must obviously all 

be effects of some cause as cogent as it is general; and we begin to 

; suspect that the cause is to be sought not so much in the value of 

( ^ the arguments, which is exactly zero, as in the strength of the senti- 

^ ' ments that they disguise. If that should prove to be the case, the 

main thing in metaphysical theories would be the sentiments and 

not the arguments; and so, to stop at the arguments and judge a 

597 '^ Metaphysi\ der Sitte